Vancouver files to intervene on Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion

The City of Vancouver sees no upside to the risks posed by Kinder Morgan expansion. Local government has applied to the National Energy Board for a seat at the table during hearings on the expansion, so local interests will be represented.

Tanker at the Lion's Gate: image from "No Tanks" (YouTube)

The City of Vancouver filed for intervenor status with the National Energy Board today on the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, to express the City's significant concerns about the impact of a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic and damage from a potential oil spill.

The City was directed to file following a City Council vote in December 2013. Intervenor status will give Vancouver a seat at the table, as it were, for the National Energy Board hearings on the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion; those hearings are tentatively scheduled for Q3 of 2014.

"The proposal to massively expand the amount of oil shipped through Burrard Inlet from Kinder Morgan represents all risk and no benefit for Vancouver," said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

A report filed by Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnston titled "Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion: Issues and Next Steps "(pdf) rattles off a veritable laundry list of risks posed by expanded pipeline and its associated supertanker traffic, such as:

  • Ship collisions
  • Ships running aground
  • Explosion
  • Ship fires
  • Terminal fires
  • Earthquake damage
  • Accidental spills
  • Chemical accidents
  • Terrorism
  • The effects of extreme weather
  • Fog
  • Tank rupture or other mechanical failure
  • Oil spills during the course of normal operations

The report then references the Exxon Valdez spill, whose environmental effects are still being felt after nearly 15 years.

These risks are compounded by the lack of assurances by higher levels of government that they will have Vancouver's back in the event of a spill or explosion; in terms of funding or actual capacity to contain a major environmental incident.

The report finds existing cleanup assessments to be unrealistic, and recommends Vancouver not get positioned prove it the hard way.

(Top image: screenshot from "No Tanks", YouTube.)

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