Has Kinder Morgan been delaying needed pipeline repairs over the Sardis Vedder Aquifer for a year or more?
And has the National Energy Board let them?
On 16 March 2012 the National Energy Board (NEB) issued a letter directing Kinder Morgan Canada to complete baseline assessments of the Trans Mountain pipeline for cracking features that may lead to leaks. Over a year later, in June 2013, two spills were discovered by crews on the ground near the Coquihalla Summit and about 40 km east. Those spills had been missed by inline inspection tools.
A group of Chilliwack residents went to see the spill sites. The expectation was two spill sites, two excavations for repairs. In fact many excavations were found and extensive repairs to the ageing pipeline were apparent. A large pile of oil-contaminated soil was seen, part of hundreds of dump truck loads of contaminated soil that were removed from the Coquihalla Canyon that summer.
In response to the 2013 spills, 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 in that section that met Kinder Morgan’s dig criteria--an average of one "feature" per 2.3 kilometres of pipeline.
In a February 2015 response to WaterWealth’s Information Request #2 in the NEB hearing, Kinder Morgan said that completion of the baseline assessment ordered by the NEB was delayed due to 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, nearly four years after the pipeline inspection had been ordered!
The Sardis Vedder Aquifer (Aquifer #8) is the sole source of drinking water for Yarrow Waterworks 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. What was seen in the Coquihalla Canyon in 2013 would suggest even more.
To the best of our knowledge no repairs have been done in the section of pipeline over the aquifer, or even anywhere between Bridal Falls and Sumas Mountain. We are concerned as to why that is when so many repairs were done elsewhere. It seems unlikely that there are no digs needed in Chilliwack. If the testing was competed in 2015 as Kinder Morgan said it would be, then any locations in need of inspection and possible repair have been waiting for a year or more!
Was the final report on in-line testing filed with the NEB as Kinder Morgan said it would be "by the end of 2015"?
If so, can residents of Chilliwack get a copy of that report so we can reassure ourselves regarding the security of our community's water supply?
If that report would not reassure us as to the security of our community's water supply because there are indeed locations that need attention on the old line, can the NEB explain why Kinder Morgan is being allowed to leave those locations unattended to?
WaterWealth will be pursuing these questions with the National Energy Board, but wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to wonder!?
We may have the opportunity to stop wondering about the safety of our water supply from pipeline spills. If the federal government do approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (which may happen as soon as Monday, November 28th) and Kinder Morgan do dig a new trench to put the new pipeline in, that new trench can be the opportunity to get the ageing pipeline off of the aquifer by digging that new trench around the aquifer instead of across it. The old pipe could be decommissioned where it lies over the aquifer now and both pipes run in the new trench. OFF of the aquifer! It's a minor change in an 1150 km, $6.8-billion project, but it would eliminate the risk to this growing city's drinking water.
If we want this to happen we have to speak up! Please sign the Not On The Aquifer petition at www.waterwealthproject.com/nota and tell your friends and neighbours! Many in Chilliwack are not even aware that the pipeline is on top of the aquifer now. We need to spread the word and not miss the one opportunity we may have to fix this.