UPDATE: Kinder Morgan proposes alternate Burnaby routes for pipeline twinning

With the current Trans Mountain pipeline situated underneath North Burnaby residential neighbourhoods, its operator is proposing alternative routes for its twin.

On Thursday, Kinder Morgan Canada released maps of alternate routes it is considering in Burnaby for its pipeline expansion project.

The current pipeline, built about 60 years ago, is now located within residential neighbourhoods that grew around it, including Forest Grove and the area south of Burnaby Mountain Parkway.

In an effort to reduce impact on residential areas, the company is proposing alternatives.

From North Road to the company's Burnaby Terminal at Shellmont Street and Underhill Avenue it proposes two options. Its first choice, the selected study corridor, would run along Lougheed Highway from North Road to Underhill, then north on Underhill to the terminal.

The alternative corridor would follow the CN rail corridor from North Road, west under Highway 1, then along an abandoned Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) right-of-way, now used as a multi-use trail. It would then follow Gaglardi Way, rejoin the BNSF right-of-way heading west along Eastlake Drive, to Underhill and then north to the terminal.

Both options would have to cross Stoney Creek which "can be protected through horizontally directional drilling," the company said on its project website.

From Burnaby Terminal to the Westridge Marine Terminal on Bayview Drive where tanker ships would be loaded with crude for export, the company also proposes two alternatives to the current route.

The selected study corridor would continue west along Burnaby Mountain Parkway to Hastings Street, across Inlet Drive and then run parallel to Cliff Avenue (west of the roadway) to the terminal.

The second choice would start the same but head north along a disused part of Burnwood Avenue within Burnaby Mountain Park. It would then use horizontal directional drilling "to eliminate surface disturbance" within the park, to connect to Westridge terminal.

The Trans Mountain pipeline runs from Edmonton to Burnaby and currently carries 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil. Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin it, expanding capacity to 890,000 bpd largely to export oil sands crude to Asia.

The selected study corridor to the Westridge terminal is of great concern to those living near the pipeline rupture on Inlet Drive in 2007, said Alan Dutton of Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE).

"If they put it down the west side of Westridge there would be no way out for those residents," Dutton said, explaining the triangular-shaped neighbourhood is bordered by busy Barnet Highway and forest. "That's very disturbing for people in that area."

At a well-attended public meeting BROKE held Thursday night, he said, some residents questioned why the pipeline couldn't be located further west, closer to the Chevron refinery.

"That whole area is between refineries and docks and putting another pipeline through it just adds to their misery and fear and the issue of safety. If you already have an existing refinery why not put the pipeline route in that area rather than block [residents] off."

Dutton also expressed concern about Kinder Morgan's plans, as part of the expansion, to double the tanks at its Burnaby tank farm, located at its terminal on Shellmont and Underhill.

"It's complete insanity to put a tank farm on the side of a mountain overlooking residents and at least one school and daycares," he said. "If there's any seismic activity we stand to have a disaster."

As for Kinder Morgan's efforts to reduce the impact of the project on residential areas in the city, Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart said the expansion of the existing line will end up being like a brand-new project through other areas of the city.

"You're just increasing the web of pipelines," Stewart said. "This is only Kinder Morgan. We still have Suncor and Shell and other lines that are running beneath the city as well … Again this is just for export, there's no local benefit."

Stewart is also wary of the claim that drilling could be used to reduce impacts on Stoney Creek and Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.

"We also heard that story with the Canada Line. It was supposed to be drilled and after they got approval they said, 'Oh, it's too expensive' and then they did cut-and-cover … And that turned out to be quite a nightmare for people on Cambie Street."

He noted construction for the pipeline would require a corridor just as wide as for the Canada Line, although not as deep.

The routing would increase the areas to which the company has a right-of-way, and it doesn't preclude them from making further changes within those right-of-ways in future, he said. "So it expands, really, their control over local land."

Stewart said the right-of-ways will likely be at a width of 30 metres, or 100 feet, with 30-metre safety zones designated on either side. By comparison, Hastings Street is only 21 metres wide.

As for whether land within the safety zones would need to be expropriated, Stewart said he hasn't managed to get a clear answer from the National Energy Board.

"They assured me no one has built in safety zones because that's not allowed, and actually I was on my cellphone calling from Forest Grove where I was basically standing in somebody's living room that is exactly in the safety zone."

He invited the NEB to come to Burnaby to see the situation first-hand and help clarify the issue "but they refused."

Greg Toth, Kinder Morgan's senior project director for the expansion, said at a media briefing that generally construction of a pipeline requires a 40-metre-wide footprint although in denser areas that could be narrowed.

The proposed project would lay 980 kilometres of new pipeline, 75 to 85 per cent of which would be along the existing route. But the company will have to work around changes that have occurred in urban centres since the existing line was built in 1953, Toth said, noting that Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge weren't built until 1961.

The alternate routes proposed for Burnaby are largely underneath city roads and railway easements with about four homes on private land in the Westridge area that would be directly affected, he said.

He stressed that Kinder Morgan does not have the right to expropriate but in a case of dispute, would follow the NEB's arbitration process.

Toth explained in an interview that horizontal directional drilling is a highly accurate type of drilling that can be steered to follow a curved path as opposed to boring in which the drill goes straight across with entry and exit points dug straight downwards.

There will need to be geotechnical assessments done, he said, but when it comes to crossing waterways with high fisheries values, Department of Fisheries and Oceans will require that the first options considered be horizontal directional drilling or boring, he said.

"And then if we, through our geotechnical investigations determine that it can't be done, you have to do that rigour, do that type of analysis before the Department of Fisheries will allow you to go to one of the other techniques," he said.

"I know Stoney Creek is on the books for a trenchless crossing, either boring or directional drilling."

As for drilling within Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, he noted the preferred route is to go down the west side of Westridge but the company is continuing to explore the park option.

Issues to consider include a long drilling distance, elevation changes as the route heads toward the terminal, and the fact it would occur within a municipal park.

Download the maps of the proposed routes at Online comments will be accepted until July 18. The company says public feedback will be incorporated into its formal expansion application to the National Energy Board which it expects to file late this year.

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