Local pipeline paths revealed



Kinder Morgan has revealed possible routing options for the pipeline expansion plan through Burnaby, and the company is trying to avoid residential neighbourhoods and private property.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to run the twinned oil pipeline from North Road, on the Coquitlam border, along Lougheed Highway to Underhill Avenue, where it will take a right, past a gasoline distribution station that sells Esso products. From there, it’s a short stretch to the Kinder Morgan storage terminal, or tank farm, on Burnaby Mountain. The corridor route then heads from the north-west corner of the tank farm and then west along Burnaby Mountain Parkway, down a short stretch of Hastings Street, before turning right and running north close to Cliff Avenue and the Burrard Inlet Conservation Area, before connecting to the Westridge Marine Terminal, the dock where tankers fill up with crude.

The “study corridor,” as Kinder Morgan calls it, is not the exact location of the pipeline; it’s a wide berth the company is examining and submitting as part of its facilities application to the National Energy Board later this year. The exact route of the line will be somewhere within the study corridor.

There is an alternate proposed route, in case there are problems with the first option (see map above for details). Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain pipeline runs oil from Alberta to the West Coast and has been in place since the early 1950s.

The company wants to twin the existing line, bringing capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000. For most of the 1,150-kilometre line, the company is sticking to its existing right-of-way for the expansion, but because development in Burnaby has increased over the decades, Kinder Morgan is proposing these new routes that mostly stick to main roads, railway tracks and trails.

Kinder Morgan spokesperson Mike Davis explained that the company is not in the business of expropriation.

“The pipeline today doesn’t go under any houses or anything like that. It’s in a dedicated right-of-way or in a street. The term expropriation, in its strictest definition, is power that municipalities have to take property. We don’t have that power as a pipeline operator,” Davis said.

However, Davis added, if the National Energy Board approves the project, Kinder Morgan could be granted “right of entry” to access property, meaning the company could get approval to build the pipeline on someone’s property without taking ownership.

“It starts out with our application, providing this study corridor, and that gets refined down to an actual route,” Davis said.

If there are issues on the route that can’t be resolved, then there are two processes afterward to try and come to a compromise, and if those fail, then the company may be granted right of access.

When asked if Kinder Morgan may need to access people’s property in Burnaby, Davis said they would try not to.

“We will do everything we can to avoid it,” he said. “I can’t say with any certainty we won’t come to that in some small examples. . I can’t say for sure we won’t come to that, but we will do everything we can. We have to live with these landowners for another 60 years. We don’t want to end up in an adversarial situation, so we will do everything we can to resolve that. But it is a large project. It’s a federally regulated project, because it’s in the national interest, and we ultimately have to find a balance.

“There are parts of the route that are going through streets, so it would be naïve to say we’re not affecting residential property, but it’s not actually on the property,” he added.

Kinder Morgan is collecting public feedback on the routing options. Go to talk.transmountain.com/ burnaby#tool for maps, more information and feedback opportunities.

Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/news/Local+pipeline+paths+revealed/8591160/story.html#ixzz2Xfo2YnAc

Oil pipeline shut down as second leak in as many weeks plagues Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain near Hope

HOPE, B.C. — As one Kinder Morgan crew worked on stemming an oil leak from its Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia on Thursday, another worked on winning over the province’s reluctant public for a major expansion of the line.

It was the second time in as many weeks the company was forced to shut down the only pipeline linking the Alberta oilfields with a West Coast shipping port because of a leak, this one about 40 kilometres east of Hope.

While the company held another of its open houses in Burnaby Thursday night to elicit feedback on the proposed route of the new pipeline, across town, roughly 50 people opposed to the expansion gathered at a Burnaby’s McGill Library.

about five kilometres from the terminus of the existing pipeline, to ask New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart what they could do to stop it.

“People are getting more and more entrenched against it, so now you’re getting fewer questions and more definite ‘nos,’”Stewart said after the meeting.

Electrical engineer Kei Esmaeilpour said he is opposed to the expansion because it is not in Canada’s national interest to export products like bitumen, which have no value added.

“I am not as environmentalist as maybe the others are, I am more in favour of the economic development,” Esmaeilpour said.

Greg Toth, senior project director for the Trans Mountain expansion said after the spill, “We have, really, a culture of zero tolerance. Our focus, our job, is to keep the oil in the pipe.”

The company was alerted to an “anomaly” in the line and sent a crew to the area Wednesday. That crew discovered oil on the ground and the line was shut down.

A 15-member crew worked through the night, and Kinder Morgan said Thursday that between 20 and 25 barrels of oil spilled, or up to 4,000 litres. Two weeks prior, several barrels of oil seeped from a crack in the line near Merritt.

“We’re disappointed that it happened but I think you can point to the fact that both of these leaks were found as part of our ongoing integrity program work. We were there on the right-of-way to dig up these features and it’s unfortunate that they began to leak before we got there,” said Mike Davis, the senior director of marine development for the expansion project. Repairs were underway on the latest leak Thursday, and a National Energy Board emergency response team was on site to monitor the repair and cleanup of the rural site, about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver. There was no sign of contamination to the nearby Coquihalla River, which the company continues to monitor, and there were no homes near the spill, according to agency spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor.

The energy watchdog said its investigators will look at whether the two incidents are isolated or similar in nature. Taylor said the board could not yet confirm the company’s estimated release volume, but said 80 cubic metres of contaminated soil was removed.

Pipelines and the oil tankers that go with them have been a hot-button topic in B.C., and Toth said they have been recurring themes in the 37 public meetings his team has hosted in communities all along the would-be route.

Resolutions have been passed opposing the expansion by the city councils of Vancouver and Burnaby, where a 2007 construction accident rained down 230,000 litres of oil on a neighbourhood near Kinder Morgan’s Burrard Inlet terminal.

The cleanup cost roughly $15 million, including the 70,000 litres that flowed into the inlet, and 250 residents were temporarily evacuated.

Retired elementary teacher Mary Hatch was one of them. The 66-year-old is now one of the forces behind the grassroots organization Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan’s Expansion (BROKE) that hosted Stewart Thursday night.

As BROKE’s first anniversary approaches, “our main outlook, our main opinions, haven’t really changed, we just have more concerns,” Hatch said Thursday.

Their say their opposition to the project has hardened in spite of the Trans Mountain team’s local, community-by-community approach touted by Davis.

“We’ve been here for 60 years, so I think we really do understand the political culture here in B.C.,” Davis said.

The proposed route will stray significantly from the existing line because of the amount of development that has occurred since the original pipeline was constructed in 1953. The company will attempt to avoid private land, routing the line along abandoned railway lines if possible.

Essentially, the existing 1,150-kilometre line will remain in place, carrying refined products, synthetic and light crude. The “expansion” involves 980 kilometres of new line that will carry heavy oil, or diluted bitumen, as much as possible of it laid in the ground beside the current line.

The capacity will increase from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Andy Galarnyk said the exact cause of the leak has yet to be determined, but the company’s own investigation and repairs were already underway.

“As soon as we can get it repaired, and have discussions with the board on that, we’ll try to get this line up and running.”

With a file from Mike Hager, Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy/pipeline+shut+down+second+leak+month+plagues+Kinder/8586524/story.html?__lsa=361b-2d5d#ixzz2Xe1hwwR6

Calgary floods spotlight cities’ costly failure to plan for climate change: No kidding

By Amber Hildebrandt, CBC News

Many Canadian cities and towns are ill-prepared for the rising frequency of catastrophic weather events like the southern Alberta floods, and it’s a problem that taxpayers will ultimately end up paying for, climate change experts say.

“There are other disasters waiting to happen in other parts of Canada, but Calgary is a good poster child for inaction on warnings they received not too long ago,” said James P. Bruce, former Environment Canada assistant deputy minister.

Many have heaped praise on southern Alberta’s emergency response after extremely heavy rain pummelled communities, with several months’ worth of rain falling in the span of hours for some areas.

“From a disaster response point of view, the Calgary mayor did a fantastic job in running the whole show,” said Kaz Higuchi, a York University professor in environmental studies and former Environment Canada scientist.

But a community’s ability to react during a disaster is one thing. Minimizing the impact of a flood is another. Now, the province faces a potentially decade-long cleanup effort that could cost $5 billion by BMO Nesbitt Burns estimates.

Disaster risk management experts say the Alberta situation should serve as a wake-up call to municipalities across the country of the need to spend money and time mitigating the risks before disaster strikes, especially as climate change is predicted to bring bigger and more frequent severe weather events.

“We go from disaster to disaster … being sure that we protect a life so people are protected and then finding the best way how we pay for that,” said Slobodan Simonovic, author of Floods in a Changing Climate: Risk Management. “But what we are doing is we are simply reacting to that, paying for that. We are not investing in the reduction or minimization of the future.”
‘Tremendous increase’

On average, Canada gets 20 more days of rain now than it did in the 1950s. While flooding – the costliest natural disaster for Canadians – was once mainly a spring event due to the combination of frozen ground and rainfall, it’s now increasingly happening in the summer.

‘The climate change community is predicting that we will be seeing a tremendous increase in these heavy and extreme rainfall events.’—Slobodan Simonovic, risk management report author

“The climate change community is predicting that we will be seeing a tremendous increase in these heavy and extreme rainfall events,” said Simonovic. “They’re going to be much more frequent.”

Since the 1950s, the cost of natural disasters has also risen 14-fold, according to the Centre for Research in the Epidemiology of Disasters.

Before 1990, only three Canadian disasters exceeded $500 million in damages. In the past decade alone, nine surpassed that amount.

Simonovic notes that it’s not only in the federal government’s interest to help communities minimize the risks of disasters because of the amount of money it forks over for relief, but also because there are economic benefits to prevention.

Studies around the world show that the economic benefits of disaster mitigation can range from $3 to $10 dollars for each dollar spent on prevention.
Feds active in past

Bruce says decades ago the Canadian government took a more active role in trying to reduce the risks to life and property from floods, ensuring municipalities weren’t building on vulnerable flood plains.

The Flood Damage Reduction Program, which ran from 1975 until 1990, saw the federal and provincial governments share costs of mapping all the floodplains and creating standard flood risk evaluations.

The federally initiated program also got provinces and territories, with the exception of the Yukon, to agree to inhibit development in the floodplain areas. Alberta didn’t join until 1989, a year before the program began to disintegrate.

“I think they were worried about what that would mean, designating all of downtown as floodplain,” said Bruce.

But the federal government hasn’t sought a similar approach to helping communities prepare for the increased risk of disasters expected from climate change.

Bruce helped write a 2010 guide for municipalities that helps them figure out specifically how climate change could affect them and then design a way to minimize the risks of future damages. The voluntary guide saw uptake in several provinces across the country and aims to help municipalities wade through an area where there’s dire need for long-term planning but currently little financial impetus.

“Many municipalities have risk management framework, applied to investments and structural problems. None of them had a risk management frameworks that they applied to climate change,” said Bruce.

U.S. helping municipalities

In the United States, the federal government has clearly signaled that it will help the local governments mitigate the risks that come with climate change.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama outlined a sweeping climate change plan. Part of the plan includes new standards for roads to ensure they are built above flood levels. It also states that local governments will get assistance to help them plan for extreme weather.

‘We all agree that there is a new reality now, which is climate change. Unfortunately, those that have to pay the bills are taxpayers or property owners.’—Claude Dauphin, Canadian Federation of Municipalities president

A new Climate Data Initiative will also provide climate preparedness tools and information for state and local governments, plus the private sector.

The news came after a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that predicted the risk of flooding in the U.S. would increase by 45 per cent by 2100, largely due to climate change. Ultimately, it’s in the government’s interest to reduce risk since it funds a flood insurance program that’s already draining its budget with payouts.

Canada is currently the only G8 country where people cannot buy insurance for overland flooding. Private insurers cover sewage backup, but won’t offer flood protection because the small population base of Canada means it’s difficult for the companies to cover the cost of their risk. As a result, provincial and federal governments foot the bill for large-scale floods, meaning all taxpayers are on the hook.

“We all agree that there is a new reality now, which is climate change,” said Canadian Federation of Municipalities president Claude Dauphin. “Unfortunately, those that have to pay the bills are taxpayers or property owners.”

A 2010 report by the insurance industry’s Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction recommended that Canada adopt the United Kingdom model — where the private sector offers flood insurance on the condition that the federal government take steps to mitigate disaster.

As an example, insurers offer coverage to residents in flood plains if the government builds a dyke to try to prevent flooding.

Simonovic, who is director of engineering for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, says the federal government never responded to the report. “We didn’t succeed at all,” he lamented.

As climate change brings increased frequency of flooding events, the likelihood that Canada’s insurance companies would want to partake in a joint federal government initiative looks dismal.

“With more frequent floods and with more higher damage, I think we’re getting further and further from the involvement of the private sector,” said Simonovic.

B.C. residents split on Kinder Morgan pipeline project, poll finds

British Columbians remain split over Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin the TransMountain pipeline in order to transport crude oil from Edmonton to Metro Vancouver for export to Asia, according to a recent poll.

A Mustel Group telephone poll of 502 B.C. residents conducted May 1 to 13 found 44.4 per cent support doubling the pipeline, 46.2 per cent oppose it and 9.5 per cent said they didn’t know.

The poll was conducted before two recent leaks, one near Hope on Thursday and another near Merritt on June 13, temporarily closed the pipeline.

This year’s results are essentially unchanged from March 2012, when a Mustel poll showed 43.7 per cent support and 44 per cent opposed.

Both polls, paid for by Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, follow a survey in 2011 — also commissioned by the MP — showing 31 per cent in favour of twinning the pipeline, 35 per cent opposed and 11 per cent in favour of removing TransMountain altogether. The remainder, 22.8 per cent, said they didn’t know.

Although the results suggest opinion on the project has remained fairly constant, Kennedy said one change was an increase in those indicating they strongly opposed it. Roughly 30 per cent of respondents in the most recent poll said they strongly opposed the twinning compared to 25.7 per cent who said they strongly opposed the project in 2012.

“When somebody says they strongly oppose something, it means that they’ve thought about it and it’s something that really rubs them the wrong way,” he said. “It’s not something that’s common on a lot of issue polling that you do and you can see on this issue, we’re up over the 30 per cent mark.”

But the poll also showed an increase in those who strongly supported the project, up to 17.6 per cent in 2013 from 14.7 per cent in 2012.

The most recent poll showed 26.8 per cent of respondents somewhat supported the project, down from 29 per cent in 2012, while those who said they somewhat opposed the project also declined, from 18.3 per cent in 2012 to 16.1 per cent in 2013.

The city of Vancouver showed the lowest level of support, with 36.2 per cent strongly opposed, 15.1 per cent somewhat opposed, 27.6 per cent somewhat in support and 9.6 per cent strongly in support. The rest of Metro Vancouver was slightly more divided, with 28.6 per cent strongly opposed, 17.7 per cent somewhat opposed, 26.2 per cent somewhat supportive and 16.4 per cent strongly in support.

The Southern Interior showed the highest level of support, with 27.5 per cent strongly in favour of doubling the line, 25.5 per cent somewhat in favour, 12.3 per cent somewhat opposed and 26.5 per cent strongly opposed.

Income, gender and age also appeared to play a role.

Overall, men were more in favour of the expansion than women, at 52.2 per cent compared to 37.7 per cent.

Those with lower incomes tended to more strongly oppose the pipeline, with 49.4 per cent of those earning less than $65,000 a year opposing the project, compared to 42.5 per cent of those who earned more than $65,000 a year. Age did not appear to make a big difference in overall support for the project, with 18-34 year-olds 47 per cent opposed, compared to 49.6 per cent for 35-54 year-olds and 42.1 per cent for those over 55 years of age. However only 9.2 per cent of those 18-34 were strongly in favour of the project, compared to 16 per cent for 35-54 year-olds and 25.6 per cent for those 55 and up.

Kennedy is opposed to twinning the TransMountain line, which, he said is consistent with the views of the majority of his constituents. In 2007, more than 200,000 litres of heavy crude spilled into Burnaby’s Westridge neighbourhood and Burrard Inlet after an excavator accidentally punctured a pipeline taking oil from Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain terminal to its Westridge marine terminal.

Kinder Morgan is expected to make a formal application to the National Energy Board to twin the pipeline in November, Kennedy said.

The study’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.



With files from Postmedia News
© Copyright (c) Vancouver Sun

Blame Canada: Greedy for oil money, the country is turning into a rogue petrostate

When I recently interviewed Canadian artist Franke James, whose outspoken appeals to her government for climate action landed her on Ottawa’s shit list, I was taken aback to hear her casually refer to her country as a “petrostate.” I knew Canada’s been spending gobs of federal money to promote its tar-sands agenda, but I didn’t realize our mild-mannered northern neighbor was approaching the ranks of Saudi Arabia and Nigeria in its single-minded embrace of oil as the nation’s lifeblood.

An unforgiving article in the latest Foreign Policy magazine lays out how conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been aggressively pursuing development of the Alberta oil sands and remaking the country in the political image of the George W. Bush-era United States:

Over the last decade, as oil prices increased fivefold, oil companies invested approximately $160 billion to develop bitumen in Alberta, and it has finally turned profitable. Canada is now cranking out 1.7 million barrels a day of the stuff, and scheduled production stands to fill provincial and federal government coffers with about $120 billion in rent and royalties by 2020. More than 40 percent of that haul goes directly to the federal government largely in the form of corporate taxes. And the government wants even more; it’s pushing for production to hit 5 million barrels a day by 2030. …

Unsurprisingly, Ottawa has become a master at the cynical art of greenwashing. When Harper’s ministers aren’t attacking former NASA scientist and climate change canary James Hansen in the pages of the New York Times or lobbying against Europe’s Fuel Quality Directive (which regards bitumen as much dirtier than conventional oil), his government has spent $100 million since 2009 on ads to convince Canadians that exporting this oil is “responsible resource development.” Meanwhile, Canada has bent over backward to entice Beijing. Three state-owned Chinese oil companies (all with dismal records of corporate transparency and environmental sensitivity) have already spent more than $20 billion purchasing rights to oil sands in Alberta.

Harper, elected in 2006, is risking his country’s political and ecological security by exploiting what Foreign Policy calls “the world’s most volatile resource.” Mining operations in Alberta have already generated 6 billion barrels of toxic sludge, enough to flood Washington, D.C., and an area of forest six times the size of New York City could be excavated if approved projects proceed. Meanwhile, a secret document leaked to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last fall reveals a sinister foreign-policy strategy: “To succeed [in becoming an energy superpower] we will need to pursue political relationships in tandem with economic interests even where political interests or values may not align.”

For all of this to pay off, Canada is counting on a global market for its oil. Exports to the U.S., its biggest customer, have declined, and fighting over the Keystone XL pipeline doesn’t help. So, per that leaked memo, Canada is setting aside human-rights concerns in favor of trade deals with China. (Most bizarre detail in the article: “And, perhaps to warm Canadians’ hearts to the Chinese, the government recently lobbied to rent two traveling pandas at a cost of $10 million over the next 10 years.”)

This reckless pursuit of oil wealth requires a heavy dose of climate denial. The Harper government has eliminated or drastically reduced funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the national park system, the CBC, and the Health Council of Canada; it disbanded Environment Canada’s Adaptation to Climate Change Research Group, eliminated the position of chief science advisor, and gutted the Fisheries Act. Reporters must have questions approved before they can speak with any federal scientists. Oh, and Harper called the Kyoto Protocol a “socialist scheme” — before pulling his country out of the accord altogether.

So if Keystone XL is approved and built and ends up leaking dirty oil into the Ogallala aquifer, if the climate becomes fucked even faster thanks to all that tar-sands oil being burned, we can blame Canada.

Claire Thompson is an editorial assistant at Grist.

Kinder Morgan hosted closed Chilliwack stakeholder meeting

Kinder Morgan hosted closed Chilliwack stakeholder meeting

Map of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain pipeline through Chilliwack.

Although the route hasn’t been finalized, Kinder Morgan prefers to have its proposed second pipeline, as part of the $5.4 billion expansion project, follow closely alongside the existing Trans Mountain line.

The results of the company’s corridor study in Chilliwack and other communities were released Tuesday, and indicate a marked preference for following the existing line nearly exactly. This line cuts through the centre of Sardis, passes underneath Watson elementary’s schoolyard, and crosses the Vedder River.

The only proposed alternative route curves around Tzeachten first nation land at Stevenson and Vedder Roads, and another section of reserve land at Banford and Prairie Central Roads.

Although Kinder Morgan seeks to avoid creating additional rights-of-way, it is still evaluating the route along Montcalm Road and Canterbury Drive for alternatives in order to prevent major disruptions to residential pipeline landowners.

Also on Tuesday, the company hosted a closed stakeholder consultation in Chilliwack. The 16 attendees represented the City of Chilliwack, Fraser Valley Regional District, Pipe Up Network, B.C. Wildlife Federation, and others.

Media were not permitted. Feedback from the meeting will form part of the company’s facilities application in late 2013.

Michael Hale, a member of Pipe Up, participated in the workshop on Tuesday.

“The format of the workshop was markedly different than the information sessions put on by Kinder Morgan in various communities along the pipeline last fall. Kinder Morgan was listening,” he wrote in an email.

Protection for the Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park, and local aquifers and water sources, formed two of the concerns at the workshop, according to Kinder Morgan.

Other major concerns, as documented by Hale, were air emissions from tanker traffic, impact of spills on schools that sit atop the pipeline, impact on land values, the protection of endangered species’ habitats, impact on agricultural lands, and risk of seismic activity.

Kinder Morgan also opened the floor to considering community-based projects that could mitigate the effects of installing a second pipeline, such as habitat restoration along the right-of-way, building trails, and compensating affected schools.

This workshop is the first time that the company has discussed its plans with the community since hosting information sessions in fall 2012, and speaking at a Fraser Valley Regional District meeting this April.

There are no public consultations scheduled for Chilliwack.

Kinder Morgan solicits feedback to its proposed route online until July 9, at www.transmountain.com.


Its Top Regulator a Petro Insider, Alberta Faces New Major Spill

Andrew Nikiforuk
Plains Midstream is a repeat offender in two countries.

Another pipeline rupture in spill-prone Alberta

A Houston-based pipeline company responsible for three major oil spills in Alberta in three consecutive years has a questionable safety record in both the United States and Canada, according to regulatory documents.

On June 15 Plains Midstream, a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipelines reported a 1,000 barrel condensate spill near Manning, Alberta.

June 2004: Approximately 185 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Ellis, Kan., some entered East Spring Creek and the adjacent emergent wetlands. This discharge was caused by failure of a poly-pipeline slip insert and existing external corrosion of the outer steel pipeline.

November 2004: Approximately 50 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Westbrook, Texas, some in the Iatan Creek. This discharge was caused by external corrosion around several existing dents in pipeline coating.

December 2004: Approximately 4,500 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Iraan, Texas, some in the Pecos River. This discharge was caused by a cracked weld joint. A Metallurgical Failure Investigation indicates a pre-existing flaw extending over most of the final flaw.

January 2005: Approximately 1,197 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a tank located at Plains’ White Oak Station near Longview, Texas, some in the Sabine River. This discharge was caused by a faulty pressure relief pin and an undersized temporary relief tank located outside of the secondary containment.

March 2005: Approximately 2.5 barrels of crude oil were discharged from the ArkLa Tex Pipeline belonging to Plains Pipeline, LP., near Waskom, Texas, some in an un-named tributary to Harrison Bayou, which empties into Caddo Lake. This discharge was caused by external corrosion.

April 2005: Approximately five barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Tensas Parish, La., some in a tributary of Big Lake and adjacent wetlands. This discharge was caused by internal corrosion.

July 2005: Approximately 50 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline in Osage County, Okla., some in a tributary of Pond Creek. This discharge was caused by internal corrosion.

November 2005: Approximately 20 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Houston, some of which entered Bull Creek Canal. This discharge was caused by external corrosion.

August 2007: 400 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Vealmoor, Texas, some in Glen Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. This discharge was caused external corrosion.

September 2007: 100 barrels of crude oil were discharged from a portion of Plains Pipeline near Vealmoor, Texas, some in the Colorado River. This discharge was caused by external corrosion.

Source: EPA

— A.N.

More than 40 workers are involved in cleaning up the highly toxic condensate which is used to dilute thick bitumen so it can move through pipelines.

The Midstream spill follows another hazardous rupture on an Apache-owned pipeline near Zama City. It contaminated 42 hectares of muskeg with 60,000 barrels of toxic waste water.

The spills will do nothing to silence critics demanding tighter regulation of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Their anger was already stoked by the province’s choice to head the newly created Alberta Energy Regulator — industry insider Gerard Protti, former vice president of energy giant Encana and founder of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Those critics now may point to the case of Plains All American Pipeline, the owner of Plains Midstream, which appears to be a repeat offender when it comes to pipeline safety in both countries.

Violations in US

Last May the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued three uncontested safety violations to the company on pipelines running through Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico. One of the violations included overpressurized safety devices and overfilled protection systems.

The company was also ordered to review its program for monitoring internal corrosion.

In 2010 the company agreed to a significant settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over repeated violations of the Clean Water Act involving the discharge of nearly 7,000 barrels of crude oil into waterways between 2004 and 2007 in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

In the settlement the company agreed to spend approximately $41 million to upgrade 10,420 miles of crude oil pipeline operating in the United States as well as to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty.

In particular the company agreed to spend $6 million on improving internal corrosion control on 2400 miles of pipeline. Plains All American moves about three million barrels of hydrocarbons a day and posted revenues of $9 billion last year. It has plans to build more pipelines in Canada to move condensate from shale gas fields in northern B.C. and Alberta to Fort Saskatchewan where the condensate will be used to dilute bitumen for export.

Yet the company’s Alberta spill record is dismal. Three major leaks in three years on lines owned by the company also challenge the competence of provincial and national regulators.

Alberta regulator ‘failed to identify the risks’

In 2011 the National Energy Board issued an order against Plains Midstream that reduced pressure in two crude oil pipelines (Milk River and Wascana) due to two year-old concerns about their integrity.

“Accordingly, the board requires Plains to reduce the operating pressure of both pipelines and take further precautionary actions to ensure public safety and protection of the environment,” says the order.

That same year Plains Midstream’s Rainbow Pipeline leaked nearly 28,000 barrels of crude oil in wetlands near the Lubicon Cree community of Little Buffalo, Alberta.

To make matters worse the company tried to restart the line three times after the line ruptured.

Alberta’s energy regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), reported two years later that the company “failed to fully assess the history of the pipeline, failed to identify the risks posed by the application of Type B sleeves used for corrosion repair, and did not have measures in place to monitor and inspect the repairs.”

Tellingly, the ERCB report makes no mention of the company’s U.S. record or the EPA settlement. Yet it adds that “Given Plains has significant experience and expertise operating pipelines in both Canada and the United States, the ERCB found its communications preparedness and response to be unacceptable and substandard.”

The company now faces $1.5 million in fines for three violations of Alberta’s environmental laws over what was then the largest spill in the province in 36 years. (The Apache spill, which the regulator didn’t report for 12 days, has since broken that record.)

Rushing to protect industry’s image

Internal documents obtained by Greenpeace show that the prime concern of both the regulator and the Alberta government during the massive Rainbow spill was not competent pipeline integrity assurance but “to limit the damage to the oil industry’s public image.”

In 2012 another Plains Midstream pipeline ruptured by the Red Deer River and fouled shorelines with 3,000 barrels of crude oil. Following that costly spill, W. Dave Duckett, president of Plains Midstream Canada, earned a $4-million bonus in addition to his $300,000 salary.

A senior Plains executive told the U.S. Congress in 2010 that “liquids pipelines are subject to comprehensive federal and state oversight with respect to pipeline safety. The industry safety record is admirable, and improving, under the current regulatory regime.”

The U.S. EPA reported in 2010 that pipeline leaks and ruptures released “more than two million gallons of oil into the environment, posing a serious threat to human health and natural habitats.”

In 2004 PHMSA imposed $4.6 million in fines against pipeline companies for poor safety practices. In 2009 the regulator levied $6.5 million in fines.

In contrast the National Energy Board failed to exercise its mandate to punish persistent pipeline lawbreakers with fines until this year. Alberta’s regulator rarely fines companies for non-compliance.

Accordingly to the Pembina Institute Alberta’s Department of Energy recently reported that the ERCB’s inspections found an 83 per cent jump in “high risk” violations in 2011, roughly one-third of which involved pipelines.

‘Revolving door’ for regulators

In Canada’s pipeline industry, those who lobby for it and those who regulate it often switch roles, due to what’s known as “the revolving door syndrome.”

The former head of the ERCB was Dan MacFayden. He previously served as Vice President, Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy, for the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, which lobbies for the industry.

And the current director of the association, Brenda Kenny, once worked for the National Energy Board, which oversees interprovincial pipelines.

The new director for the Alberta Energy Regulator, Gerard Protti, was the founder of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and served as a senior executive for Encana Corporation.

Despite protests from more than 30 different groups, the Alberta government recognizes no conflict of interest in appointing a prominent energy lobbyist as the province’s key regulator.

Dave Core, a founder of Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations and a long-time critic of Canada’s energy regulators, told The Tyee that “as long as we count on bureaucrats from a captured agency to oversee reckless pipeline monopolies, unnecessary spills will continue to be the norm. It doesn’t matter whether it is Plains Midstream or Enbridge Line 9 — a bad system results in faulty pipelines.”

Read more: Energy, Labour + Industry, Environment

Award-winning journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about the energy industry for two decades and is a contributing editor to The Tyee.

Public Meeting with Kennedy Stewart

BROKE is holding a Public Meeting with Kennedy Stewart, MP and Official Opposition Critic for Science & Technology. The purpose of the meeting is to update the community on new pipeline developments, including Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion study and selection criteria, the new National Energy Board application process, and responding to questions regarding the pipeline, tanks, and tankers.

Date: Thursday June 27th

Time: 7:00-8:00 PM

Location: McGill Library 4595 Albert Street Burnaby BC V5C 2G6

Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday, June 27th!

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Safety

Joyce Nelson
Kinder Morgan Pipeline Safety
in Summer-2012-Vol22-No3

BC Energy Minister Rich Coleman appears to be ignoring the fact that corporate ownership of the Trans Mountain Pipeline changed hands in 2005, when the Canadian owner, Terasen Inc., was bought for $3 billion by Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan. Regarding the pipeline, Coleman told the Burnaby NewsLeader (April 12), “This one’s been in operation for a long time, and it does show that pipelines can operate safely for generations.”

In April, Kinder Morgan announced $5 billion plans to greatly expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which brings tar sands crude to Burrard Inlet, by increasing its capacity to 850,000 barrels per day.

NDP opposition energy critic John Horgan told the same news outlet that, while he’s opposed to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, “Kinder Morgan is a more complicated question, and one that has a track record of 50 years of more or less unblemished activity.”

But in the US, Kinder Morgan’s record is anything but “unblemished.” According to Eric de Place, senior researcher at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank, Kinder Morgan (KM) pipelines “are plagued by leaks and explosions.”

As a company, Kinder Morgan has been in existence only since 1997, when it was founded by billionaire Richard Kinder, the former “enforcer” for Ken Lay’s Enron, and another former Enron executive, William Morgan. Since its founding, KM has been on a buying binge. According to the New York Times (Oct. 17, 2011), KM has made “about 90 acquisitions” of smaller rivals in its short history. A change of ownership can make a huge difference in pipeline safety.

Between 2003-2005, KM had so many significant pipeline incidents on the US West Coast, that, according to the Tyee (Aug. 3, 2007), the US Dept of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration ordered the company to “comprehensively address integrity threats along the entire 3,900-mile Pacific Operations unit.” By mid-decade, the company’s pipeline safety record led Carl Weimer, of the Bellingham, Washington-based Pipeline Safety Trust, to label KM “the poster child for pipeline problems.” Critics charged that KM had been expanding its business so rapidly that issues like pipeline safety had lower priority than profits.

In an April 2012 report, The Facts About Kinder Morgan, Sightline’s Eric de Place found numerous incidents involving KM’s 43,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in North America have resulted in “deaths, felonies, and environmental disasters,” including the 2007 incident in Burnaby where 1,500 barrels of oil spewed onto homes and flowed down streets into Burrard Inlet after an excavator struck a poorly-mapped KM pipeline.

Now KM is in the process of buying El Paso Corp. for $21 billion, by which KM will become, says the New York Times (April 15, 2012), the US’s “biggest empire of oil and gas pipelines,” with 80,000 miles of pipe across the continent, transporting more than one million barrels of fuel per day. Goldman Sachs, which has two seats on the KM board of directors, owns a 19.1 per cent stake in KM, whose other investors include the Carlyle Group.

Whether Kinder Morgan can safely manage the doubling of its pipelines across the continent is something that many are questioning. And whether KM can safely transport 850,000 barrels per day of mostly tar sands dilbit through an expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline is a crucial question for BC.

KM has already had two significant pipeline incidents in Canada in the last year. In April 2011, an undisclosed amount of crude oil leaked from KM’s Trans Mountain pipeline into a creek near Wildwood, Alberta, 150 km. west of Edmonton. The leak was discovered by a husband and wife riding horses on their property. On January 24, 2012, a storage tank at KM’s Sumas Mountain facility in Abbotsford, BC leaked 110,000 litres of crude oil, causing local concerns about health, environmental safety and property values.

Recently, three First Nations issued a joint statement saying they will not deal with Kinder Morgan. In mid-April, Whispering Pines, Coldwater, and Lower Nicola Indian bands said the company does not have a permit to operate the pipeline on their reserves, has not dealt adequately with past pipeline leaks on their land, and intends to take too much land for the expansion of the right of way and a 65-metre safety zone in addition.

In 2008, Kinder Morgan completed a controversial expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline through Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park. The expansion had been pre-approved in the 1950s for the previous owner of the pipeline, and was “grandfathered” for KM by the Harper government.

“They want to go through our territory and our reserves without rectifying existing wrongs,” Chief Michael Le Bourdais of Whispering Pines told the Kamloops Daily News (April 17). “They want to consult about the future and ignore the past without considering the impact that a pipeline that size will have on our lives.” The pipeline traverses 15 reserves in BC, as well as dozens of towns along its current route.

A phalanx of mayors is also vowing to fight the project, including Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is calling on Ottawa to bring local governments to the table on the issue.

In an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun (April 23), Robertson wrote: “…Kinder Morgan is proposing massive crude oil exports that bypass local refineries, magnify the risk to our economy and environment, and ignore Canada’s long-term domestic oil needs. This is all happening against the backdrop of an abrupt weakening of the federal environmental review process. Which means Kinder Morgan’s proposal will face far less scrutiny, and our communities will have much less time to give it the hard looking-over it deserves.”

On April 13, Gloria Galloway of the Globe & Mail revealed that the cuts to Environment Canada mean that “the unit at Environment Canada that responds to oil-spill emergencies will be dramatically scaled back and most of its regional offices will be closed.” The staff in the Environmental Emergencies Program co-ordinate the clean-up of spills that occur within federal jurisdictions including waterways and First Nations reserves. The regional offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Dartmouth, NS and St. John’s, Newfoundland, will be “consolidated into two locations – Gatineau, Que. and Montreal.”


The silence on Bill 22 is deafening: Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act – Alberta

Tim Querengesser
The weekly Peace Pipe low-down on what’s making news

Tim Querengesser is senior editor with Alberta Venture. He once snowmobiled to the Arctic Ocean to interview a guy in elf shoes about reindeer. Really. Peace Pipe is his critical look at the intersection between Indigenous peoples and industry.

Kinder Morgan files Trans Mountain plans

After much speculation, Kinder Morgan last week filed a 1,600-page application with the National Energy Board to greatly expand (the verbiage being used by the company is “twin,” but that’s somewhat misleading) its 60-year-old Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Edmonton to terminals in coastal B.C. and Washington.

The current 1,150-kilometre, 24-inch Trans Mountain pipe is the only one in North America that transports both refined oil and crude. It currently flows about 300,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Kinder Morgan. But the ‘twinning’ of the pipe, according to The Globe and Mail, will see that flow increase to 890,000 barrels per day. The route the twin pipe will take won’t be identical to the current pipe and instead will require Kinder Morgan to acquire or gain right-of-ways within 150 kilometres of new “greenfield” spaces – short-hand for pipeline being installed in backyards and other settled areas. Stay tuned for how that plays out with affected residents in Edmonton or Vancouver.

Aboriginal groups have already voiced their opposition to Kinder Morgan’s plans, though. In March, the Coldwater Indian Band, located near Merritt, B.C., requested a judicial review by filing documents in Federal Court, alleging the minister of Aboriginal Affairs, who is now Bernard Valcourt, was planning to approve the Kinder Morgan plan. That plan would allegedly see sections of the new pipe run across the Coldwater reserve. In May, the First Nation filed a second legal action in B.C. Supreme Court regarding right-of-ways for the existing and proposed pipelines.

Kinder Morgan’s director of external relations, Andrew Galarnyk, has been quoted by The Canadian Press as saying that “Trans Mountain has been, and continues to be, open to discussing and resolving outstanding issues with Coldwater or other First Nations as it relates to the indenture or other matters of concern.”

Stay tuned.

Athabasca Chipewyan punk Royal Dutch Shell

Last week, to borrow from the lingua franca of our times, Royal Dutch Shell, the world’s second largest publicly traded oil company, saw its annual shareholder meeting ‘punked’ in The Hague, the Netherlands. As the meeting proceeded several protesters from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) confronted Shell board members in opposition to the company’s proposed expansion of two open-pit oil-sands mines in northern Alberta.

“We’ve gone to draw attention that the relationship with the company we had has deteriorated,” said ACFN spokesperson Eriel Deranger, who is part of the protest, during a Tuesday phone interview with Fort McMurray Today. “In the past, we’ve had delegates join us from Ontario and Nigeria. We’re not the only ones frustrated with Shell.”

Indeed they weren’t. Aside from the environmental concerns that the aboriginal groups from Alberta and Alaska raised at the meeting, there was also a growing movement of shareholder activism. About eight per cent of shareholders rejected the company’s executive compensation policy (and a further two per cent abstained).

The silence on Bill 22 is deafening

There has been very little public discussion about Bill 22, the Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act, which is the Alberta government’s sweeping new legislation that, after passing as of today, will control the consultations between industry and aboriginal groups. But emerging details of the proposed legislation suggest that this silence isn’t going to remain.

According to a legal blogger, it appears the act could:

– force proponents to reveal financial agreements they have with aboriginal groups, such as impact benefit agreements;
– block any appeal or review of decisions made by the minister of Aboriginal Relations;

For such a sweeping change to the way industry and aboriginal groups interact in Alberta, the silence on Bill 22 is becoming deafening.