Tanker tracking website gets big ‘like’ out of BROKE

Burnaby residents opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion are giving a new tanker tracking website a great big “like.”

The site, unveiled by the Forest Ethics environmental group, is getting rave reviews from Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE).

“I think the site looks fantastic,” said Alan Dutton of BROKE.

“We are very pleased that this has been done.”

The site, www.tarsandssos.org, allows visitors to see oil tankers docked at Kinder Morgan’s Westbridge Marine Terminal and follow them to their next port of call. On Tuesday, the site showed the Aqualiberty– a Liberian flagged tanker 249-metres long by 44-m wide, docked at the Burnaby terminal.

Dutton said the site makes it easier for those involved in the debate over increased tanker traffic through the Port of Vancouver to track and record the number of vessels actually using the Kinder Morgan facility.

“This will help us with our tracking and help everybody understand the issues involved,” Dutton said.

“We’ll be putting it up on our own website.”

The tanker tracker is a new public engagement tool being used by Forest Ethics, which is ramping up its opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion. The group is part of a coalition of environmental organizations, First Nations and coastal businesses on either side of the Canada-U.S. border opposed to pipeline expansion in B.C.

Ben West of Forest Ethics said seeing the tankers at dock and following them to their next port of call brings the reality of shipping oil along the West Coast home to a potentially huge audience.

“The idea is to take it from the theoretical to real time,” said West. “People can now see and feel in real time the threats to our coast.”

West said he hopes the next phase of the anti-pipeline campaign will feature a series of “tanker-cams” set up along the West Coast to monitor the tanker traffic.

Up to now, the environmental coalition has focused on fighting the Keystone XL pipeline project in the United States. The groups also oppose Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion project would see the number of tanker berths at the Westbridge Marine Terminal triple to three. An additional 30 tankers a month – an average of one a day – would load at the terminal.

The project also proposes to double the number of tanks at the Burnaby Storage Terminal on Burnaby Mountain, adding 14 new storage tanks. That would add another 3.9 million barrels of oil to the facility’s capacity. Currently, the terminal can hold 1.6 million barrels.

The 1,150-kilometre pipeline runs from Edmonton to Burnaby. The expansion to twin the pipeline would nearly triple its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 if approved.

Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lisa Clement said the company disputes many of the claims made on the site, including that a single accident off the West Coast involving an oil tanker would wipe out B.C.’s Orcas, seals and salmon.

Clement said the corporation encourages the public to check out marinetraffic.com, instead.

“Canada and the U.S. have a shared interest in the safe transportation of petroleum products through the Salish Sea,” she said.

Clement said petroleum products from the Westridge Marine Terminal have been safely carried by tankers in Burrard Inlet for more than 50 years without incident.

She said those interested could also check out the Trans Mountain Expansion website.

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