Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline begins in Edmonton, Alberta and bisects the Rocky Mountains into BC, crossing over 500 bodies of water, before ending in the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver.
Despite the very real risks associated with an oil spill, many residents of the Fraser Valley living along the pipeline route are not aware the pipeline even exists. A publicly-available map detailing where the pipeline runs had been nonexistent until one was produced by the Wilderness Committee. In Chilliwack, the pipeline runs by numerous schools, crosses community parks, and cuts underneath the Vedder river through a protected fish habitat zone just east of the Blue Heron Reserve.
The pipeline was built in the 1950s, without the free, prior or informed consent of Indigenous communities who are impacted by the pipeline. As a result, some consider the pipeline a violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Alarmingly, the pipeline is now increasingly being used in a way it was not intended. The pipeline was designed for jet fuel, natural gas and oil, but Kinder Morgan has been using it to carry toxic tar sands crude in the form of bitumen. (Bitumen is a mixture of unrefined tar that is heavier than water.) "Diluents," a cocktail of volatile carcinogenic solvents, are used to pump thick bitumen through the pipeline.
Kinder Morgan is now proposing to almost triple its capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels a day. The corporation is planning to build a new pipeline, which would dramatically increase the amount of bitumen transported through our Home Waters.
The serious impacts of this new pipeline include digging up lands, diverting rivers and disturbing major community infrastructure. Kinder Morgan did not consult with any local communities along the route prior to announcing the expansion.
Since 2005, there have been thirteen spills on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Recent ruptures include the 2012 spill at Kinder Morgan’s Sumas facility in Abbotsford, BC, which spilled about 110,000 litres of oil causing local residents to suffer nausea, headaches and fatigue; and two 2013 spills near the Coquihalla Summit.
These spills are minor in comparison to other recent pipeline breaks, particularly those involving tar sands oil. In 2012, a pipeline ruptured and emptied 3,000,000 litres of bitumen into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The accident was the costliest oil pipeline spill in U.S. history. The heavy bitumen sank to the riverbed, making conventional oil spill clean-up techniques useless. The end result is that the local residents and natural environment in this region will never be the same, their home waters forever changed.
A 2015 leak on a Nexen pipeline, double-walled and less than a year old, spilled 5,000,000 litres over a month in northern Alberta, despite the latest pipeline safety systems that are supposed to detect leaks.
A Primary Concern For Chilliwack: Off the Aquifer!