Reply to Strahl NEB Letter

Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl weighed in on the NEB detailed route process for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. Unfortunately Strahl's letter falls short of supporting efforts to reroute the pipelines and protect City of Chilliwack and Yarrow Waterworks wells.

MP Strahl's letter can be found here https://apps.neb-one.gc.ca/REGDOCS/Item/View/3297180

MP Strahl also emailed WaterWealth Program Director Ian Stephen to say that he had sent the letter to the NEB. Stephen's reply follows.

Dear Mark

I saw your letter to the NEB, and thank you for writing it. One part I must take issue with is where it reads;

"It is a demonstrable fact that pipelines are the safest way to transport energy products across our country, with a safe delivery rate on major pipelines exceeding 99.99%. It is certainly safer to transport these products by modem pipelines than transporting them overland by rail or on our public highways by truck."

Given that the letter is in the context of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, a pipeline intended to transport diluted bitumen, that statement is not true. The safest way to transport bitumen is undiluted so that it cannot spill. That is sometimes done by rail. I'm sure it could also be done by truck, but don't know whether such truck transport takes place currently.

However, in the immediate context of Chilliwack that point makes no difference. The NEB detailed route process that is in progress now as part of the "thorough, independent, scientific, and evidence based decision making process" is not about whether the pipeline should be built or not, but seeks to determine the "best possible detailed route of the pipeline" (NEB Act section 36). By Kinder Morgan's own admission (pages 30-34 Trans Mountain Response to Province of BC IR No. 2) some 2% to 5% of pipeline volume can leak for extended periods without detection by safety systems. For the proposed 590,000 barrel per day pipeline that would be 78,175 to 195,437 litres per hour that could leak undetected next to City of Chilliwack wells or upstream of Yarrow Waterworks wells. For the existing 300,000 litre per day pipeline 2-5% would be 39,750 to 99,375 litres per hour.

Knowing that the diluted bitumen product contains a wide range of compounds including benzene, which is toxic, cancer-causing, and dissolves in water, I am disappointed that your letter falls short of joining efforts to avail ourselves of the NEB process and reroute the pipelines to remove this risk from Chilliwack and Yarrow's drinking water supplies. Hopefully the efforts of individual residents to change the route of the pipeline will be successful and our MP's support for Kinder Morgan's convenience in trying to stick to the 1953 right-of-way will be of no consequence to the safety of the water coming from residents' taps.

Sincerely,
Ian

 

 

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