Letter to Premier Clark

The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, British Columbia
V8V 1X4 July 29, 2013

Honourable Premier Christy Clark:

RE: Lack of ability, of the existing Kinder Morgan Inc’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, to meet your criteria of “”world class oil spill response”

For 4 months of the year, along the existing 60 year old pipeline route, where the “right-of-way” leaves the highway and goes through the avalanche prone, deep snowfall, Coquihalla canyon, ANY oil spill response remains totally impossible, except by helicopter.

Accordingly, you are invited to an information session, at the Coquihalla summit on Sat August 17, at 11:00. The Prime Minister, Kinder Morgan, the First Nations of the Fraser watershed, and other Canadians, are also invited.

After the session, you are invited to walk down, with the entire party, one mile, to the recent spill site, in the Canyon.

David Ellis
3872 Point Grey Road
Vancouver, B.C.
V6R 1B4
cell 604-916-6081


sent by email and by mail

McCulloch’s Wonder by Barrie Sanford

Quebec tragedy sparks debate

As the small town of Lac-Megantic is recovering from the devastation caused by a derailed train exploding and killing more than 40 people, the tragedy has brought safety issues around railways to the forefront in Burnaby.

At a recent city council meeting, Coun. Nick Volkow asked staff to prepare a report that looks into the type of hazardous materials passing through Burnaby and what warnings are provided, if any, when they do.

Volkow noted a “28,000 per cent increase” in the volume of oil transported by rail in the last four years. “Basically, (Transport Canada) is washing their hands of regulating railroads and turning it into a self-regulatory regime, which I think is dangerous for all of us,” he told the Burnaby NOW. “For one thing, I’m getting the first responders, the fire department in particular, to outline the history in their dealing with railroads over the years on various issues. I want a serious report done on this – not some whitewashing of the issue.”

Following the report, Volkow hopes it will answer his questions and provide background information, as he intends to meet with representatives of the federal regulating authority.

“I’m not going to knock the railways,” he added. “The railways are doing exactly what they’re entitled to do. The issue is, I think, that some of the things they’re entitled to do are inappropriate.”

In Quebec, about one per cent of Lac-Megantic’s citizens were killed by the explosion, and about 12 people are still missing.

“One per cent of the population of Burnaby, is what, about 2,200 people?” Volkow noted. “Imagine an equivalent catastrophe here, with 2,200 people. What do you think we’d be saying then?” Tom Gunton, a professor in Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, said the basic problem is that crude oil transported by rail cars has increased dramatically, compared to five or six years ago when there was almost no shipment of crude oil by rail.

“Now it’s become significant,” he said. “It continues to grow in size of oil pipelines, but where an oil pipeline has comprehensive regulatory processes they’re required to go through to get approval to build pipelines, according to the National Energy Board Act, … there’s an extensive review process, public consultation and all that, and increased shipments by railway don’t require (that). There’s no impact assessment process, no public consultation process.”

Essentially, the creation of pipelines on railways without any kind of regulation oversight is what’s happening, Gunton said.

The other issue is that enforcement, regulation approval processes and compensation for when an incident does occur are lacking, he added.

Gunton noted that rail cars are prone to puncture in 75 per cent of tanker cars used to ship oil, and because of the weak regulations, companies do not have to replace weaker tanker cars with new and improved ones.

“What needs to happen, is people need to lobby the government and demand the federal government do a comprehensive review, open to public process,” Gunton said.

Meanwhile, Burnaby resident Art Quan said he’s concerned Chevron’s Burnaby refinery will further rely on rail and truck movements, now that the National Energy Board turned down the company’s bid for prioritized access to oil by pipeline.

Quan is part of the community advisory panel for Chevron’s North Burnaby refinery. The group has been lobbying the city for a web-based localized system that would notify residents near the refinery of an emergency.

“Certainly, incidents of a serious nature do occur, and when they do, I think it’s certainly prudent for the city to have a planned response where they would be able to rapidly notify the citizens of Burnaby,” he said.

Chevron’s Burnaby refinery is willing to assist with funding such a system, according to the refinery’s spokesperson, Ray Lord.

The refinery currently receives eight to 10 rail cars a day, with about 6,500 barrels of oil, Lord said.

“All of us at Chevron extend our thoughts and sympathies to those affected by the tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Quebec,” Lord said. “However, that event was the result of a tragic accident – a runaway train – and is not reflective of the daily crude delivery operations at the Burnaby refinery.”

Lord said the tanker cars have been brought in and out of the refinery’s new offloading facility since May in a controlled switching operation, which takes place at low speeds.

“By its very nature, the refinery maintains a high level of preparedness for emergency response,” he said. “Our new off loading facility has been designed and engineered to current safety standards.”

Lord also noted that hazardous goods are transported across the country every day.

“Managing and mitigating the risks associated with moving those goods is a top priority for industry across North America, including here in Burnaby,” he said.


© Copyright 2013

Coming Events


With the clock ticking, and few public details about the 2014 transportation referendum, this is an opportunity to enter into a dialogue about what has worked, and what hasn’t in past referendum votes and ballot initiatives. Join us to hear from three seasoned campaigners about efective strategies and lessons learned.

When: Tuesday, September 24 from 1:00 – 2:30PM
Where: SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St., Room 1700

Residents rally to remember 2007 oil spill

It’s an anniversary, but there’s little to celebrate.

Local residents opposed to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion are holding a rally to mark the anniversary of the 2007 pipeline rupture.

Recording of the spill

The rally, scheduled for Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m., will be held in Westridge Park, at 320 Cliff Ave.

The organizing group, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE), includes people whose homes were impacted by the rupture.

On July 24, 2007, city-hired workers digging along Burnaby’s Barnett Highway broke the pipeline, which created a 30-metre geyser of crude that sprayed for 25 minutes, releasing more than 200,000 litres of oil in the surrounding area and the Burrard Inlet. Roughly 50 homes were impacted, and the rupture was blamed on inadequate pipeline maps.

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the existing line to nearly triple capacity to meet burgeoning demand for crude exports, and BROKE members are opposed.

“Now Kinder Morgan is proposing a new pipeline, cutting through Westridge, likely constructed alongside Cliff Avenue. If approved by the National Energy Board or directly by the federal government, this could box in residents in the Westridge area with the old oil pipeline running down Inlet Drive and the proposed new one running down Cliff Avenue,” BROKE stated in a media release.

The residents are also concerned about Kinder Morgan’s plan to add two more berths to the Westridge Marine Terminal, where tankers fill up with crude.

© Copyright (c) Burnaby Now

Rally to mark six years since Burnaby pipeline rupture

Wanda Chow
The sixth anniversary of the rupture of the Trans Mountain pipeline in North Burnaby will be marked by a rally on Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m., say Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE).

The rally, at Westridge Park, 320 Cliff Ave. in Burnaby will mark the rupture of the Kinder Morgan-owned pipeline on Inlet Drive, which resulted in the area being evacuated and homes being covered by oil.

The Transportation Safety Board investigation of the incident determined it was caused by out-of-date maps and poor communication among those involved in the work at the time, to install a new storm sewer line for the city.

The rupture released 234,000 litres of crude oil, much of it into Burrard Inlet, of which 210,000 was recovered. It sprayed 11 homes, emergency crews and two members of the public, and caused the evacuation of 250 area residents.

Remediation work cost over $14 million, says BROKE, which opposes Kinder Morgan’s plan to more than double the capacity of the pipeline.

“If approved by the National Energy Board or directly by the federal government, this could box in residents in the Westridge area with the old oil pipeline running down Inlet Drive and the proposed new one running down Cliff Avenue,” BROKE said in a press release. It also opposes the increase in tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet that would result from such an expansion.

Info: info@brokepipelinewatch.ca


What’s in the soil?

Kinder morgan testing soil by local elementary school

Kinder Morgan is collecting soil samples by the Trans Mountain pipeline right-of-way, close to Stoney Creek Community School, testing for hydrocarbons at the request of the Burnaby school district.

The testing started Monday, July 15, and the results won’t be ready for several weeks. Trans Mountain’s Lisa Clement said the results will be provided to the school board, but it’s not clear if they will be available to the public.

Clement said the testing is taking place on the Trans Mountain right-ofway, northeast of Stoney Creek Community School on Beaverbook Crescent.

School district communications manager Jodie Wilson said there were no specific concerns that prompted the testing and that the district is pleased that Kinder Morgan is following up with the request.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline has been running oil from Alberta to the West Coast since the early 1950s.

According to Kinder Morgan, the pipeline’s right-of-way runs through two elementary school district properties: Stoney Creek and Forest Grove. The right-of-way is adjacent to the school grounds, and at Stoney Creek, it runs out front of the school under a community garden. The pipeline does not run beneath any school buildings, as construction above the line is forbidden.

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the existing line, nearly tripling capacity, but so far the company has put forward routing options that do not follow the existing right-of-way close to the elementary schools.

© Copyright 2013

Lac-Mégantic tragedy

Dear Alan,

The human loss of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy is almost beyond belief. Together, we can make sure this never happens again.

Click here to call on Lisa Raitt, the new Transport Minister, to immediately ban shipping oil in old, dangerous type 111A tanker cars, and join the call for a comprehensive independent safety review of all pipeline, rail and truck transportation of oil and gas.
Send your message

On July 5th, as most people in Lac-Mégantic slept, a freight train hauling 72 tank cars of crude oil derailed in the middle of the small Quebec town.1 Many of the old, dangerous tank cars split open. The oil burst into flames and explosions shook the town as burning oil flowed through the streets.

The fires blazed for two days, destroying half of the downtown, and leaving 38 confirmed dead, with a dozen still missing in a town of 6,000. This is the deadliest rail disaster in Canada in nearly 150 years.2,3 The human loss is almost beyond belief, and our hearts and prayers are with the people who are grieving and rebuilding in Lac-Mégantic.

Now, dozens of organizations across Canada, from Quebec’s Équiterre to Public Interest Alberta, are coming together to make sure a disaster like this never happens again, and they are asking for your help to make sure the federal government listens.

Please click here to tell Prime Minister Harper and the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, that you demand an immediate ban on using dangerous 111A tank cars to transport oil, and join the call for a full review of how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck.

Government and industry have known for years that it’s extremely dangerous to carry oil in the old “111A” tank cars that exploded in Lac-Mégantic.4 Yet, the government has removed common-sense safety regulations, and has failed to implement necessary oversight for shipping the dangerous fuel.5

Back in 1994 the Transportation Safety Board of Canada wrote that 111A tank cars have a flawed design and a “high incidence of tank integrity failure” during accidents. Since then, the government has ignored repeated warnings while companies have used more and more old rail cars to transport dangerous fuels through communities across the country.6,7

Despite the tragedy, the federal government is still denying the need for a full review and better safety regulations. On Friday, Larry Miller, the Conservative MP who chairs the government’s Transport committee, dismissed calls for a review of Transport Canada’s safety regulations.8

The tragedy in Lac-Mégantic shows us just how devastating it can be when governments put oil company interests before community safety. As our hearts go out to all those affected, we can work together to make sure this never happens again in any community from coast to coast to coast.

Please click here to demand a ban on 111A tanker cars and an independent safety review of all oil and gas transportation.


The quiet increase of oil and gas transportation in recent years – through pipelines, rail and trucks – is putting our communities, livelihoods and environment in harm’s way. More and more people are concerned about the risks of these dangerous fuels, and we deserve to have a say in decisions that affect all of our lives.

We need to act now before the media moves on and attention fades. If enough of us speak out now, we can force the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, to take the first steps necessary to protect our communities.

Thanks for all you do.

With hope and respect,

Matthew, Sanna, Cam, Jamie, Maggie and Emma on behalf of the Leadnow.ca team

P.S. Did you know the railway industry has been lobbying the federal government to make our safety regulations even weaker?9 An immediate ban on old, dangerous, tank cars and a full safety review is the first step in making sure a tragedy like Lac-Mégantic never happens again. Send your message now.


[1] The equation of a disaster: what went wrong in Lac-Mégantic (Globe and Mail)

[2] Lac-Megantic death toll climbs to 37 (CBC)

[3] Quebec train crash’s missing all presumed dead, police say; attention focuses on CEO (The Washington Post)

[4] Rail cars like those in Lac-Mégantic disaster are prone to puncturing (Globe and Mail)

[5] Tories dismiss need for review of critical audit of Transport Canada following Lac-Megantic disaster (Vancouver Sun)

[6] Safety rules lag as oil transport by train rises (CBC)

[7] Rail cars like those in Lac-Mégantic disaster are prone to puncturing (Globe and Mail)

[8] Tories dismiss need for review of critical audit of Transport Canada following Lac-Megantic disaster (Vancouver Sun)

[9] Railways have been lobbying against more stringent safety regulations (Montreal Gazette)

Probe of Lac-Mégantic train disaster turns to composition of oil

Federal officials probing the Lac-Mégantic disaster are testing the chemical composition of crude oil carried by the runaway train as they seek to answer the crucial question of what triggered the unusual and devastating explosion after the derailment.

Transportation Safety Board investigators are collecting oil samples from each of the 72 rail cars that hurtled down a hill into the small Quebec town and ignited an enormous fireball that levelled more than 40 buildings and, as of the latest count, has killed 42 people.

Edward Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc., which operated the derailed train, said Canadian authorities have impounded the rail cars to take “a huge number of samples of oil.” He said the investigators and officials in the rail and oil industries “are asking how come there were explosions here. Crude does not blow up.”

People familiar with the investigation said the TSB is examining the composition of the oil that fuelled the explosion.

Industry sources said there are several possibilities. One is whether the crude, which came from the Bakken oil region of North Dakota, contained volatile chemicals. A possible scenario is that additives were intentionally combined with the crude oil to speed up the transfer of the syrupy oil, common for pipelines but rare in the rail industry. Another possibility is that the tanker cars had chemical contaminants from a previous shipment. Another question is whether the oil contained high levels of flammable hydrogen sulphide gas, which is sometimes present in Bakken oil.

Mr. Burkhardt, who is one of several private and institutional shareholders that own the small east coast railway, has said he is devastated about the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe, and that it began after one of the company’s employees neglected to apply enough hand brakes to the train on the night it broke away. Despite this failure, he said, a broader question needs to be asked about whether railways or regulators need more information about the chemical content of oil that is being transported on the rails.

“There are questions in the industry as to whether, in fact, the oil is mislabelled when it comes to its qualities. When the Transportation Safety Board issues its report, it is going to be hundreds of pages, and a huge amount of it will be devoted to chemical composition – where this stuff came from and what to do about it,” he said.

Mr. Burkhardt said he also expects investigators look to see if a local propane tank might have been detonated by the impact of so many heavy oil cars in a confined urban area and triggered the larger explosion. He disputed earlier media reports that there was a propane tanker in the vicinity of the derailment.

Although MM&A has accepted responsibility for the derailment, the potentially volatile chemical makeup of the Bakken oil is becoming a subject of increasing controversy in the transportation sector.

Some oil extracted from the Bakken fields has been found to contain high levels of the foul-smelling hydrogen sulphide vapour, which is flammable, corrosive, poisonous and explosive. The gas is formed below ground when organic matter breaks down in the absence of oxygen.

Another question is whether the oil contained high levels of flammable hydrogen sulphide gas, which is sometimes present in Bakken oil.

Although hydrogen sulphide is a common impurity in oil and gas extraction, there is a debate over whether Bakken crude contains dangerous levels of it. In May, pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. filed regulatory documents to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking permission to refuse to ship Bakken crude with extremely high levels of hydrogen sulfide through its pipelines. Enbridge said in a submission to the commission that it wanted to ensure “the safe operation of its system and the health and safety of its employees.”

Some observers are also questioning whether high temperatures in Quebec the day before the crash made the oil more flammable.

John Cottreau, a spokesman for the TSB, said the regulator is still collecting and analyzing crude samples at Lac-Mégantic. It is expected that it will be months before the regulator issues its report.

Transport Canada is also probing the explosions in a separate investigation.

“Transport Canada has obtained a warrant and is gathering evidence to determine if rules and regulations under the Railway Safety Act and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act have been followed,” a spokeswoman for the department said in an e-mail.

She would not elaborate on the contents of the warrant, which is sealed. Non-compliance with federal regulations could lead to criminal charges.

The derailed train was carrying crude from oil fields in the northwest corner of North Dakota to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B.

Regulators in the United States say rail carriers are responsible for knowing what they are carrying, and that the shipper and the railway company are required to work out such details when the train is being loaded.

“The carriers have to know exactly what it is that they’re hauling at all times,” said Warren Flateau, a spokesman for the Federal Railway Association in Washington.

Mr. Burkhardt said MM&A received a detailed bill of lading from the U.S. oil services company, which he declined to identify, and no chemicals were identified as being present in the crude. The intermediary oil services company leased the rail cars, loaded them with oil and then contracted three separate railway companies to transport them.

The first carrier was Canadian Pacific Railway, which handed over the train to MM&A in Montreal. From there, MM&A was to deliver the oil cars to a small rail company in New Brunswick owned by the Irving family.

According to people familiar with the Lac-Mégantic train shipment, the company that bought and loaded the leased rail cars was World Fuel Services Corp., a publicly traded company based in Miami. A spokeswoman for the company did not return phone.

In response to questions about the safety of the Bakken crude on the derailed train, a Canadian Pacific spokesman said in a statement that “CP meets or exceeds all federal operating and safety regulations and rules. As we do on an ongoing basis, the recent tragedy allows us to review our safety procedures in an effort to identify any potential opportunities for further improvement.”


Video report of How the oil spill is being cleaned at Lac-Megantic


Plans for unstaffed Second Narrows rail bridge worries port, district officials

NORTH VANCOUVER — The District of North Vancouver and Port Metro Vancouver are expressing concern over CN’s plan to cut staff who monitor and operate the Second Narrows rail lift bridge.

CN confirmed Tuesday that it will phase out the system of having observer-operators posted at three movable span bridges in the Lower Mainland including the Second Narrows rail crossing, New Westminster and Lulu Island bridges.

Instead, all three bridges will be monitored by camera, and raised and lowered as needed from a central location.

“The centralized system will streamline our operations while continuing to follow the marine navigation rules and maintain safety,” said Warren Chandler, CN spokesman. “We will still have the ability to place a bridge tender at any of the bridges should we feel it necessary, but the idea is to have the automation up and running by the end of this year.”

Chandler said additional cameras have been installed at all bridges, which will give the centralized bridge operator a full view. The change shouldn’t present any more risk to marine or rail traffic, Chandler added.

“We have done a comprehensive risk assessment to ensure that the centralized system will not have an adverse effect on operations or safety,” he said.

But officials with Port Metro Vancouver said no one has told them about the risk assessment.

“They indicated that they were looking at potentials for doing this and they started a review process, but as far as we are concerned, it has never come full circle. It has never been completed as a full-fledged risk assessment,” said Chris Wellstood, deputy harbour master.

Deepsea traffic traverses the narrows at least daily, and there is likely more traffic on the way if Kinder Morgan gets approval for the twinning of its oil pipeline to the Burnaby terminus, Wellstood said.

The port has also not been informed of whether Transport Canada has signed off on CN’s plan, Wellstood added.

CN’s plan may be perfectly safe, said Wellstood, but he added until industry members and the port have been able to list their concerns and hear what CN’s plan for addressing them are, it’s hard to know how CN reached its conclusion.

While rail safety is under federal jurisdiction, District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton said he too is wary of CN’s claim in the absence of seeing a risk assessment report.

“The first reaction is, if you’re going to monitor something from New Westminster by video and control it, do you have access to all the information that a human set of eyes and brain has when it’s right there in the south tower overlooking the site?” Walton asked. “I just don’t know.”

As Burrard Inlet is crucial to the economies of every municipality that borders it and protecting the environment is a shared responsibility, Walton said CN should make its risk assessment available for public scrutiny.

“I suspect, if CN is working within the acceptable safety standards, then obviously those safety standards need to be publicly disclosed,” he said. “I think most of us mayors in the inner harbour would like a little more comfort than CN just saying the job can be done from a remote location in New Westminster.”


Click here to read more stories from The North Shore News.

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

Refinery application denied

Chevron’s Burnaby refinery has been denied designation as a “priority destination,” disappointing Canada’s largest energy workers’ union.

On June 19, Chevron applied to the National Energy Board to designate its Burnaby refinery as a priority destination. The designation would have meant it would have first call on oil flowing through the Trans Mountain Pipeline system.

The request was denied on July 11. “The (board’s) decision will see Canadian oil flow to the U.S. when a Canadian refinery is being starved of supply,” said Dave Coles, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union president, in a media release. “The (board’s) decision will allow large U.S. refiners to continue (jamming) the system at the expense of a Canadian refinery that has been relying upon the pipeline as its primary source of supply for 60 years.”

The union says Chevron’s refinery is running out of crude to process because of increased direct exports to Washington, “which uses their large size to overbid for pipeline capacity.”

“The board’s denial of Chevron’s request for priority access to pipeline flows puts 250 value-added Canadian refining jobs in jeopardy,” Cole states. “The (board) has created a distorted market to the prejudice of the only Canadian refinery receiving oil from the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

But, the National Energy Board maintains that the Chevron refinery did not prove it was unable to meet its minimum run rate and that it could not reasonably ensure its long-term viability, according to a media release.

“Based on the evidence provided, the board found that Chevron’s Burnaby refinery did not satisfy the criteria for (priority destination) and therefore should not be designated a priority destination,” according to the board’s media release. “Among other reasons, the board observed that Chevron had consistently met its 40,000 (barrels per day) minimum run rate using the existing options in its supply portfolio.”

According to the board, it’s Chevron’s responsibility to design a portfolio of supply options that will best mitigate its supply risk and ensure long-term viability of the refinery.

The board also noted that nomination and capacity allocation procedures are likely contributing to allocation issues on the pipeline and that Trans Mountain should submit a revised nomination or capacity allocation procedure to address the issue by Sept. 30.

© Copyright (c) Burnaby Now

Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/business/Refinery+application+denied/8670513/story.html#ixzz2ZnJCn4CB