Rotarians get earful about pipeline

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Paul J. Henderson

Rotarians get earful about pipeline

By Paul J. Henderson, The TimesOctober 18, 2012 9:10 AM

Local Rotary Club members got an overview of Kinder Morgan’s planned oil pipeline twinning project at a lunch meeting in Chilliwack on Wednesday.

Trans Mountain Expansion Project director Greg Toth told Rotarians about the company’s track record, the 60-year history of the pipeline and what is planned.

The company is in the preliminary stages of consultation regarding the twinning of 900 kilometres of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline that runs from the oil sands near Edmonton through Chilliwack to the docks in Burnaby.

The $4.3 billion project would more than double the capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,000 bpd.

In its early meetings with municipalities and other stakeholders, Toth said safety and routing were the top two concerns.

During his talk, Toth frequently spoke about myths and misconceptions he said have been reported by the media.

“One of the things, again, that you’ll read about in the paper is that we’re going to be ripping up backyards, expropriating houses, knocking down shopping centres,” he said. “That is very far from the truth. We want to come up with a route that is the least intrusive to everybody involved.”

Through Chilliwack, the pipeline runs under farmers’ fields, suburban lawns, Watson elementary’s school yard, Kinkora Golf Course and the Vedder River.

Toth said that Chilliwack was the municipality with one of the largest stretches of the pipeline at 25 kilometres. Because there has been considerable buildup in residential areas since the pipeline was constructed through Chilliwack in 1953, the company will consider moving the route completely and aligning it with Highway 1.

Another of the supposed myths, according to Toth, is that diluted bitumen (dilbit), which has been shipped on the Trans Mountain pipeline at least since Kinder Morgan took over in 2006, is harder to clean up if there is a spill.

Critics usually look to the Enbridge Pipeline spill near Marshall, Mich., in 2010, when more than three million litres of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River. In that spill, the dil-bit separated and the heavy bitumen sank in the river, making clean-up nearly impossible.

Toth-like Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson who visited the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce recently-said it was not true that dilbit was more difficult to clean up than conventional oil.

Rotarian Michael Woods asked if Trans Mountain’s dilbit was somehow different than Enbridge’s in Kalamazoo.

“With the Kalamazoo spill, it was flowing, it continued to pump for 18 hours,” Toth said. The problem here is that the “aromatics” separated over time and the product got “heavier and heavier.”

Woods asked then if there was a potential for the oil to sink if there was a spill in the Fraser or Vedder rivers.

“Yes, if it’s left for a duration in time there would be a potential,” Toth said.

However, he stated earlier that the company is committed to rigorous safety protocols and monitoring of the pipeline.

“Any incident or spill is taken very seriously for us,” he said.

Toth also pointed to some of the local benefits, which include a handful of permanent jobs but millions of dollars in construction work and spinoff employment.

Taxes paid to the City of Chilliwack will more than double from $613,000 a year today to $1.4 million.

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP sent out a pamphlet to constituents this week regarding pipeline and tanker safety.

“New resource development projects such as the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipeline will not proceed unless they can be done safely and responsibly,” the pamphlet said.

The mailout highlighted that 1,300 tankers have moved through the Port of Vancouver in the last five years without incident.
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