Kinder Morgan pipeline application incomplete: Burnaby

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
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Burnaby city hall says Kinder Morgan's application to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline is incomplete.

It's calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to make that ruling and reject it for lacking the information needed for it to make an informed decision.

Kinder Morgan submitted its 15,000-page application to the NEB on Dec. 16. It proposes almost tripling capacity of its pipeline, which stretches from Edmonton to Burnaby. That would allow it to increase exports of oil sands bitumen to overseas markets by tanker ships coming in and out of Burrard Inlet.

In a letter to the NEB, Gregory McDade, Burnaby's legal counsel, said the application doesn't adequately address the potential conflict between the pipeline project and existing infrastructure along the proposed route, such as sewer and water lines.

It also doesn't adequately address potential environmental impacts or emergencies, said McDade. Nor has it made enough people aware of the proposal. It has "improperly limited its consultation area" despite the large scope of the project.

In a press release, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said, “We are extremely concerned about multiple aspects of this proposal that we know will have very negative impacts on our City.”

The city says Kinder Morgan has stated it doesn't have the resources to respond to all emergencies but doesn't provide the required information on how such incidents might be addressed.

"They seem to assume that the city will be able to manage these emergencies,” said Corrigan. “In fact, however, the city has neither the capacity to nor information on how to respond to such emergencies for these new facilities."

If the expansion goes ahead, Kinder Morgan will be bringing 890,000 barrels per day of oil into Burnaby, enough to fill 56 Olympic-sized swimming pools daily.

Corrigan noted that the pipeline has caused more than one spill in Burnaby, most recently in 2007 when heavy equipment ruptured the line, spraying the Westridge neighbourhood with crude and sending oil down to the shores of Burrard Inlet.

"Contrary to what Kinder Morgan has told the public, more than 90 per cent of the pipeline route proposed for Burnaby is new, and does not follow the existing right of way. If Kinder Morgan doesn’t know yet where it is going, and hasn’t done the necessary studies, it is simply too soon to go to the NEB, and unfair to Burnaby’s citizens to require us to guess,” Corrigan said.

Kinder Morgan is aware of Burnaby's letter and is currently reviewing it, said Ali Hounsell, spokesperson for the Trans Mountain expansion project, on Wednesday.

"We're confident that our application is complete. We would not have filed our application if we didn't think it was complete and had met all the criteria outlined by the National Energy Board."

Hounsell said many of the questions they're encountering involve issues that aren't decided until later during the detailed design and engineering stages.

For instance, the proposed study corridor has been included but work continues to nail down a specific route.

"The route we included in our application was chosen as our best efforts to minimize impacts on the community and reflective of the studies and stakeholder input that we had to that date. But it is not a final route and it's normal that it's not a final route, it's part of the normal process."

She said she's not entirely surprised by Burnaby's letter.

"A project this size and nature, we never expected that everyone would agree with what we're doing or come with open arms … Ultimately we hope and trust that people will form their opinions based on the facts."

The NEB is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether the application is complete and if it is, who will be granted intervenor status at the hearings.

• Kinder Morgan is hosting an open house for Burnaby residents on "Optimization of the Proposed Pipeline Corridor," on Thursday, April 3, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Executive Plaza hotel, 405 North Road, Coquitlam.

Burnaby city hall also plans to hold meetings to inform residents and businesses about the expansion proposal.

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