Five members of a Chilliwackbased environmental group recently hiked to the site of a June oil spill on Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline near the Coquihalla Summit and they didn't like what they found.
"I wasn't prepared for what I saw," said PIPE-UP spokesperson Michael Hale. "The top of the Coquihalla Summit is the highest point of any pipeline in Canada. From the that point near the summit, the pipeline descends over 300 metres vertically in a very short distance. The age of the pipe and the steepness of the descent would surely increase the likelihood of a major spill."
Hale and four other members of PIPE-UP gathered on Aug. 24 on the Trans Canada Trail just below the trail. They then hiked seven kilometres to the spill site.
"Judging by the amount of work Kinder Morgan is doing in the area, they are obviously worried about leaks," Chilliwack resident Ian Stephen said in a PIPE-UP press release. "In addition to the two reported spill sites, we saw a half dozen other repairs."
This summer Kinder Morgan held open houses and received feedback for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, a $5.4-billion plan to twin its 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.
The existing pipeline, which was built in 1953, runs through Chilliwack under farmers' fields, Minter Gardens, residential neighbourhoods in Sardis, Watson elementary's school yard, Kinkora Golf Course and the Vedder River.
The expansion project would nearly triple the pipeline's capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 890,000 bpd.
The PIPE-UP group has expressed concern about the proposed expansion since it first came to light in early 2012.
Hale and the group had asked Kinder Morgan to tour the site of a second spill in the area that also occurred in June, but the company refused.
Kelvin Stetler, technical supervisor for Kinder Morgan Canada, said this is because the area in question is an active work location.
"For safety reasons we cannot provide access to non-employees while there are crews and equipment working in the area," he said in an emailed statement. "Access to the Trans Canada trail remains open.. .. Routine construction equipment, i.e. excavators, dump trucks and pickup trucks will be in use at the site. We are anticipating this phase of the project to be completed by the end of October 2013.
"The remediation of the site is being done in association with other pipeline maintenance activities underway at several locations in the Coquihalla Region on the Trans Mountain Pipeline System."
As to the question of spills and the company's response capability, a spokesperson pointed to Trans Mountain's pipeline integrity management program "that includes ground and air patrols of the pipeline, leading-edge inline inspection equipment and a state-of-the-art control centre that monitors the pipeline around the clock. We take our reporting requirements very seriously and report any incidents along the pipeline to our regulators."
© Copyright 2013