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Kinder Morgan's historic oil spills are double the Kalamazoo disaster: NDP MP

Kinder Morgan VP calls Burnaby MP Kennedy Stewart’s oil spill analysis of its Trans Mountain pipeline “stupid”, “ludicrous” and “astounding.”  What do you think?

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Kinder Morgan VP not persuaded by climate change science

Controversially, the Kinder Morgan vice president admitted, he’s also not persuaded by global warming.  Recent studies have shown that 97 per cent of world scientists who have published papers on climate change have concluded that humans are causing it.  

“We just had the worst winter in 10 years in Calgary," he said, with a laugh.  "I’m an engineer, I have somewhat a scientific background.” 

“I am not convinced either way about the science.  I think there’s strong arguments for and against.”

But one impact that all sides agree on, is the human toll the spills can have.

The social impact of spills  

Mary Hatch - Kinder Morgan oil spill victim - 2007 Burnaby

Oil spill victim, Burnaby resident Mary Hatch - photo provided by Hatch

Burnaby resident Mary Hatch recalls vividly the company’s 2007 spill that sprayed bitumen on her property and lawn.  She still keeps press clippings from the years of coverage of the event.  Her home was just 100 metres from the rupture.

“I was just sitting at my kitchen table, and a fire fighter came to my door,
 recalled Hatch. “I opened it, and he said, ‘you must evacuate immediately.  There’s been an oil spill.’

The frantic clean up went on for two years, resulting in the removal of her lawn, and inability to access her home.  

“It’s a traumatic experience.  It impacts your whole family.  You worry about their health. You are not compensated unless you are to hire your own lawyer, and take Kinder Morgan to court, and they have a lot of money and big lawyers.  So I didn’t do that," she said.

"Yes, you get your soil back...but you go through through a lot of turmoil, and upset – you can’t use your property for a couple of years.”

'We want to avoid oil spills'

Kinder Morgan said the Burnaby incident, to which the company pled guilty in court, was caused by an “incompetent contractor hitting” its pipeline and was not directly the company's fault, said Harden.

“That [Burnaby 2007 spill] caused us $22 million to clean up.  Now you compare that to Kalamazoo, they are at…$1.2 billion, and the EPA is taking over that clean-up, so who knows where those costs are going to be,” said Harden. 

“We want to avoid all oil spills, none of them are acceptable.  But the ones that keep me awake are on the right of away, outside our terminal.”

“I’ve got 250 people working for me.  You know what they all work for?  You know what their goal is?  Keep the oil inside the pipeline.  Keep the black sticky stuff inside the round thing,” Harden added.

New pipeline safety measures announced

Stewart’s release of the oil spill data comes on the same week the Harper government released new pipeline and tanker safety measures, to hold companies liable for spills. 

Companies will be expected to pay up to $1 billion if spills occur, irrespective of who is at fault, and will be held liable for the full cost if the spill is due to negligence. 

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford also hinted Aboriginals will be part of a training initiative, to get First Nations to be part of oil spill preparedness and response.

An intervenor for the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion hearings, Pipe Up Network spokesperson Michael Hale, said he'd prefer not to see more oil spill risk going through his property.

"Pipelines spill regularly," he said.  "Do we want to blacken our part of the beautiful world with a 20th century fuel that is now becoming increasingly scarcer, dirtier, and more dangerous?" 

Harden stressed that the entire pipeline industry, including Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, TransCanada and others -- works very hard to prevent spills.

"We all understand that when any [one pipeline company] has incidents, it looks bad on all of us.  It’s kind of like we own everybody else’s spills."  

Hughes added, that most don’t appreciate how utterly dependent society is on oil at the present, supplying what he said was 99% of all energy needs.

“Fossil fuels are going to be around for a long time, and will be a bridge to the future where maybe you don’t need it anymore.  That’s going to be decades.”

Stuart obtained a spreadsheet of the pipeline's 78 spills from the National Energy Board.  It matches a similar document on Trans Mountain’s website of spills. 

Burnaby neighbourhood near Kinder Morgan pipeline - Photo by Mike Martin Wong

Burnaby neighbourhood near Kinder Morgan pipeline - photo by Mike Martin Wong
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