Burnaby resident frets about Kinder Morgan expansion

By Drew Penner

Aaron Keogh, a 39-year-old Burnaby resident is troubled by the risks associated with the Westridge Terminal.

While Kinder Morgan Canada Limited announced on Sunday that it is putting on hold all non-essential activities and related spending on the Trans Mountain expansion[1]https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kinder-morgan-canada-limited-suspends-non-essential-spending-on-trans-mountain-expansion-project-300626072.html, this talk about cozying up to foreign business interests by expanding oil exports is all a bit too close for comfort for Keogh.

“I’m about 500 metres away – actually maybe even less than that,” he said, estimating the distance to the tanker loading point for Alberta petrochemicals. “If there was any sort of a fire I think it would have mass destruction of houses in the local vicinity.”

The Federal Court of Appeal recently threw out BC’s attempt to challenge the National Energy Board’s thumbs up for Kinder Morgan growth plans. But Burnaby has moved to elevate the case right to the Supreme Court, arguing the City’s point of view wasn’t properly factored into the equation.

The relationship between Alberta and B.C. has continued to sour over the issue, like grapes left on the vine. Allowing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to proceed was Justin Trudeau’s first major expenditure of political capital, when environmentalists really started to question the prime minister’s sincerity. On March 23, federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May was even arrested for protesting in Burnaby.

Beyond the potential for billions of dollars in damages that could occur if disaster struck, Keogh is disappointed by what he sees as Trudeau’s betrayal.

“They allowed Kinder Morgan to bypass Burnaby’s bylaws,” he said. “If there is a spill on land, on the mountain, it’s not something that they’ll discover overnight.”

Plus, Keogh worries that the Oceans Protection Plan is just a drop in the bucket compared to what would actually be needed in the event of a spill. According to Good Jobs First’s Violation Tracker, Kinder Morgan has had to pay more than $164 million for breaking rules since 2000, including 58 environmental screw-ups.

And he wonders how much greater Canada’s contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions would be if you factored in the petroleum that leaves Burnaby, and other places, to be burned up elsewhere.

“I think the percentage we put out into the world would be a lot greater,” he said.

Kinder Morgan points out it has a four-phase emergency plan that is world-class. It claims that 69.5% of spills on the Trans Mountain pipeline happened at pump stations or terminals. Beyond that, its own data notes 21 other crude oil spills. However, the company says the Westridge Marine Terminal has never had a single spill – from a tanker[2]https://www.transmountain.com/spill-history.

But that doesn’t provide much comfort of Keogh, especially since a company website explains that in July 24, 2007, “a backhoe operated by a third-party contractor accidentally ruptured the Trans Mountain pipeline carrying crude oil to the Westridge Marine Terminal, resulting in the release of crude oil onto Inlet Drive and the surrounding residential area in Burnaby BC.” Kinder Morgan pegs the mishap at 224 cubic metres of heavy synthetic crude and explains that some of it went into the storm drain system “and was directly discharged into Burrard Inlet.”

Over the last year, the RCMP’s Community Response Team has had to put the Kinder Morgan issue into serious focus, too. Back in November it had a series of calls in regards to protests, but when the police reports to civic officials, it doesn’t strike a pro-industry tone. The RCMP says its member “remain impartial and let the evidence dictate the direction of the investigation, regardless of who the victim or suspect may be,” according to City of Burnaby documents. They call their actions “a measured approach” in order to “ensure that the rights of the public to lawful protest are respected and encouraged.”

Now he’s concerned that officials may be stifling data to pacify locals.

“We don’t have the proper information,” he said, expressing skepticism about Canada’s ability to meet the climate targets negotiated in Paris. “They are basically waging a misinformation campaign.”

Keogh will watch with interest as Premier John Horgan’s request for a court decision on his ability to curtail oil flows is answered.

But for now he’d settle for more transparency, although he says he’s not waiting with bated breath.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kinder-morgan-canada-limited-suspends-non-essential-spending-on-trans-mountain-expansion-project-300626072.html
2. https://www.transmountain.com/spill-history