As a former reporter and editor for two community newspapers and as a communications specialist for two large energy corporations, may I compliment Chilliwack Times reporter Paul J. Henderson for his well-written and balanced article, "Even more oil could flow through Abbotsford" (Abbotsford Times, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, Page A4.)
However, with respect to paragraph eight, "The issue of oil transportation . . ." may I point out that the Kinder Morgan storage container at the company's Sumas Mountain "tank farm" did not fail (April 3, 2012). To be precise-which is how the reporter should have worded the sentence in order to show that his reporting/writing was totally objective and unbiased-the sentence should have explained that a number of operational mistakes were made that caused the spill of 110,000 litres (24,000 gallons or what would fill an average backyard swimming pool).
Those mistakes were: 1. a roof drain valve on a tank was left open when it should have been closed;
2. an external nozzle and the valve were not winterized or insulated, which caused the water in the system to freeze and the pipe flange gasket to fail;
3. the control centre operator did not respond to alarms in the prescribed manner;
4. there were improper alarm settings in the SCADA system that collects and analyzes the data that flows into the control system.
The storage container did not "fail," as the reporter has cited, as that would lend itself to readers' visions of catastrophic damage with millions of litres of oil previously stored in the large tanks cascading down the slopes of Sumas Mountain surging into the Fraser Valley. There were a number of minor and more serious operational errors made that Kinder Morgan subsequently attended to at the direction of the National Energy Board in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident.
As to the "Strong odours (that) lingered through the day . . ." the reporter should have worded it as "nuisance" odours that may have bothered people, such as the exhaust from any of the region's many diesel buses or vehicles. If I recall properly, no one was hurt or killed and no private property was damaged and there was no threat of any kind to the public at large. Residents were advised, as were school children, to stay indoors until evaporation and dissipation by the wind had rendered the gaseous state of the oil totally harmless within a few hours.
As for the concluding three paragraphs concerning opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, it would be advantageous if your reporter could elaborate on:
1. the concern that opponents to the KM project have regarding the increase in the risk of tar sands oil that could affect local aquifers;
2. the furtherance of risk to ocean ecosystems and local businesses by increased tanker flow in Burrard Inlet.
In light of the advancements made in oil transmission/ pipeline engineering - including tanker transport- during the past two decades, could these nameless individuals or groups present their credentials in making such gross sumnatory statements?
Hyperbolic statements do little to give opposition critics any credibility but only have more sensible people classifying them as Chicken Little aficionados. What risk analyses have these people/groups carried out?
As for Ms. Sheila Muxlow of the Fraser Valley anti-pipeline group PIPE UP, could your reporter also recall what engineering credentials this former activist in the Alberta oil tar sands has seeing that her educational background is only having earned a liberal arts diploma from the University of the Fraser Valley and a bachelor's degree in International Relations and Globalization
Studies from the University of Ottawa? Being a director of the Sierra Club of Canada - Prairie Chapter and a regional organizer for the Council of Canadians does not automatically strike me as being the most redoubtable qualifications to challenge Kinder Morgan's proposal.
G.E. MacDonell Abbotsford