A comment we often hear in our work regarding Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project is that the old pipeline has operated safely for many years. The implication being that allowing a second pipeline to be built over the aquifer that supplies Chilliwack and Yarrow with water would also be safe.
Here are some facts to consider in deciding:
Are the Pipelines Really A Risk?
On 16 March 2012 the National Energy Board (NEB) issued a letter directing Kinder Morgan Canada to complete baseline assessments of the existing pipeline for cracking features that may lead to leaks. In the course of that work 2 spills were discovered by crews on the ground, on 12 June and 26 June 2013 near the Coquihalla Summit and about 40 km east of there. Those spills had been missed by inline inspection tools. In response the NEB issued a Safety Order requiring Kinder Morgan to reduce pressure in the entire Trans Mountain pipeline.
An assessment by Kinder Morgan 14 March 2014 requesting the pressure restriction be lifted in the 274-kilometre Hargreaves to Darfield section of the pipeline included results of re-analysis of inline inspection data. The re-analysis identified 119 features that met Kinder Morgan’s dig criteria--an average of one feature per 2.3 kilometres of pipeline. This is also consistent with what was seen on the route by Chilliwack residents hiking the Coquihalla Canyon during the summer of 2013 after the two June spills.
Kinder Morgan’s 18 February 2015 response to WaterWealth’s Information Request #2 in the NEB hearing said that the baseline assessment ordered by the NEB was delayed by unavailability of one of the required inline inspection tools. A filing extension had been received and Kinder Morgan planned to file an interim report with the NEB by 27 February 2015 and a final report by the end of 2015.
The Sardis Vedder Aquifer (Aquifer #8) is the sole source of drinking water for Yarrow and the City of Chilliwack. The City’s letter of comment in the NEB hearing on the expansion project said that the pipeline lays over the aquifer from kilometre 1094 to approximately 1107.5, a distance of 13.5 kilometres. If the Hargreaves to Darfield section of the pipeline is typical this would suggest 6 features meeting Kinder Morgan’s dig criteria could be expected over our water supply now. To date no excavations have occurred in the section of pipeline over the aquifer.
The City of Chilliwack’s letter of comment to the NEB stated that;
"If the aquifer is contaminated due to an accidental oil spill or leak,the water supply to 76,000 residents and businesses will be affected. While it is difficult to quantifiably estimate the consequences arising from such an event, the water supply system would be severely impaired until an alternate, safe water supply source can be found for drinking purposes, resulting in substantial costs and hardship to the City and its citizens. Once contaminated, it is unlikely that the aquifer could be remediated adequately to use for drinking water purposes again."
It’s not only the old pipe that is a concern. One of the largest spills in North America happened in Northern Alberta in 2015 when a double-walled pipeline only 9 months old leaked for a month, spilling an estimated 5-million litres. Safety systems never detected the leak. ‘New’ is no guarantee of safety.
The only certain protection for the aquifer this city relies on is to move these pipelines off of it.
Support the call to move these pipelines off of the aquifer by signing the petition at www.waterwealthproject.com/nota and by expressing your concerns to our Member of Parliament Mark Strahl and the Minister of Natural Resources James Carr.