Nearly 200 people gathered at Forest Grove Elementary on Wednesday, May 20 for a town hall meeting organized by Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion.
The crowd consisted of politicians, citizens, and members of community organizations who were united in their concern about the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which would be tunnelled through Burnaby Mountain.
Part of the project is an expansion of the Westridge terminal on the north side of Burnaby Mountain, and the addition of 14 new tanks to the Burnaby tank farm on the south side of the mountain. Chris Bowcock, Burnaby’s deputy fire chief, said that this would increase the risk of a tank fire that could extend to outlying areas.
SFU hired a consulting company to review the Human Health Risk Assessment completed by Kinder Morgan. They issued a report that concluded the assessment “did not evaluate the potential risk related to the spread of a fire to the surrounding forested area. This would lead to potentially greater risk to SFU from the smoke and emissions, and potential isolation of the campus by blockage of egress routes.”
“We would have to do what we call ‘shelter in place’ and keep people on the mountain.”
SFU’s chief safety officer
While there has never been a major fire since the farm began operation in the ‘50s, the expansion would complicate the evacuation of Burnaby Mountain for the Burnaby Fire Department. In the scenario that a severe fire broke out, the department might be forced to close the only two access roads to Burnaby Campus, trapping people on Burnaby Mountain.
SFU’s chief safety officer, Terry Waterhouse, told Burnaby Now that there has been “minimal communication” between the university and Kinder Morgan regarding safety procedures in the event of an emergency on their facilities.
Waterhouse said, “There is not a plan; there’s not a plan specific to that scenario. We would have to do what we call ‘shelter in place’ and keep people on the mountain.
“We need these issues addressed, and we will continue to push on in the process and be demanding of Kinder Morgan and Trans Mountain to provide the information we need as a community in a very unique geographic situation.”
Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan was also present at the town hall. He expressed disappointment in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) approval process and reiterated his commitment to stop the project.
Corrigan stated, “[We’re] going to go to court with clean hands and ensure we’ve done everything humanly possible before I stand with you, and probably 10,000 other people, and get arrested to stop this.”
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation recently launched a suit to the federal court of appeals and were granted leave on four claims that the NEB hearings did not adequately consult with the First Nations. Carleen Thomas, who represented the nation at the event, argued that “this is not right. Canadian citizens should not have to take their governments to court to make them do their job.”
The Peak contacted Kinder Morgan for comment and they stated via email response that they “respect the forums individuals and groups have created to discuss the expansion.” They say they have consulted with Aboriginal groups, environmental organizations, and municipal governments among others as part of their “comprehensive stakeholder engagement program.”
SFU biomedical physiology and kinesiology professor Angela Brooks-Wilson spoke to The Peak about diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” the form of crude oil transported through the pipeline.
A material safety data sheet for dilbit reveals that it is a carcinogen, flammable, toxic, mutagenic (able to cause birth defects), and can affect fertility and “enter lungs and cause damage.” In the event of a spill or fire, Brooks-Wilson noted that toxic fumes could linger in the air for days afterwards.
However, a report published by the Trans Mountain project found that “the characteristics of dilbit are not unique and are comparable to conventional crude oils.”