Kinder Morgan could force access to Burnaby’s land with National Energy Board order

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The City of Burnaby refuses to work with the company over new Trans Mountain pipeline route

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said Tuesday the company may seek an order of the National Energy Board to gain access to Burnaby city lands to test a new route for the Trans-Mountain pipeline.

Kinder Morgan is considering seeking orders from the National Energy Board to access land to test a new tunnel route under Burnaby Mountain for its Trans Mountain pipeline, a sign of how contentious the $5.4-billion project is in Burnaby.

The company announced last week the tunnel is its preferred route because recent public consultations showed it was least disruptive to residents.

However, Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said Tuesday the City of Burnaby is preventing the company from going onto city lands and doing the necessary geotechnical work to determine if tunnelling is possible.

The previous preferred route would have directly affected four homes, while the new route affects no residences and could also potentially be used as a location for the existing pipeline, noted Anderson. The existing pipeline was built in 1952, but the city has since expanded around it.

The company proposes to triple capacity of the pipeline to nearly 900,000 barrels a day by building a second pipeline along a similar route, and bring about another 400 tankers to its Westridge Terminal in Burnaby on Burrard Inlet. The project is meant to open new markets in Asia for bitumen from the Alberta oilsands.

“The focus on Burnaby that I’ve taken at this stage is to make every effort to listen and understand the concerns of the residents in and around the pipeline,” Anderson said in an interview.

“(Burnaby mayor) Derek Corrigan and his council have taken the position that they won’t speak with us, they won’t engage with us, they won’t co-operate in any way with what we are considering … I’d much rather see a healthier relationship between us.”

But he noted the next step would be “us seeking an order of the board to gain access to do the necessary preliminary work” for the tunnel.

The National Energy Board Act allows companies to have access to Crown and private land for surveys and other examinations along proposed pipeline routes.

The NEB has issued orders in the past to force land owners to allow access, but it’s relatively uncommon, said NEB spokeswoman Sarah Kiley.

The NEB has only received one such request this year, she noted.

Corrigan said to co-operate with Kinder Morgan implies support, so the city won’t.

Asked if the city would fight an order from the NEB, Corrigan said yes.

“We’re fighting them every inch of the way,” Corrigan said in an interview. “We’ve made it clear we are opposed to the pipeline, and they’ve made it clear they want to impose it on us whether we want it or not.”

Corrigan said Canada must develop a national energy strategy that outlines how its natural resources should be developed and contend with climate change and renewable energy before it can be determined whether projects such as the Trans Mountain expansion is in the public interest.

While the Trans Mountain pipeline project is facing a barrage of concern from Lower Mainland municipalities — over everything from spill effects and response, contribution to climate change and susceptibly to earthquakes — Burnaby has been the most vocal critic.

The four homeowners that were affected by the previous preferred pipeline route had refused to let Kinder Morgan inspect or survey their properties and the City of Burnaby has asked about 1,700 questions of Kinder Morgan as an intervener in the federal review led by the NEB.

They are among more than 10,000 questions that overwhelmed Kinder Morgan, and on Monday the company was given a two-week extension by the NEB to answer them by June 18.

Corrigan also criticized Kinder Morgan for the late change in the preferred route — the fourth change — after interveners already had provided their questions. “At some point someone has to step back and say these guys couldn’t organize a two-car parade,” said Corrigan.

It appears the NEB is also concerned about the route changes in Burnaby. On Tuesday, the federal agency issued a letter asking Kinder Morgan to clarify which route in Burnaby they were proposing to use.

Anderson said he believes Burnaby’s questions are an attempt to antagonize Kinder Morgan, but they will answer them nevertheless.

Burnaby’s slate of questions are blunt and somewhat provocative. For example, they include : Will Trans Mountain build this pipeline and expand the Burnaby Terminal tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal without the consent of Burnaby or its citizens?

In another query, Burnaby threatens to hold back its emergency services if there is a spill incident and asks Kinder Morgan to calculate how much resources and people it would need to carry out emergency operations by itself.

Anderson noted that Kinder Morgan intends to hire an outside firm to conduct polling within the next month of Burnaby residents’ thoughts on the project. Anderson said they will release those results publicly, noting that he believes there is support for the project in the community.

Karl Perrin, a spokesman for Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion, said that for residents affected by a 2007 pipeline rupture, a tunnel would be a better option.

However, he said there remains other significant issues including what would happen to oil in the tunnel if there was a leak, slope stability on Burnaby Mountain and pipeline integrity during a big earthquake.