By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
On September 25, the National Energy Board (NEB) ruled against a request filed by Kinder Morgan asking the City of Burnaby to not apply bylaws to the company’s pipeline construction. The request was made on September 3 after the city refused to let Kinder Morgan continue test-drilling sections of Burnaby Mountain for a potential expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Initially construction workers took to cutting down trees throughout Burnaby Mountain in an attempt to scout additional pipeline space. If the pipeline expansion is ultimately approved, transportation of crude oil barrels will increase from 300,000 barrels per day to roughly 900,000. The spike in numbers however further raises concerns over potential spills to the surrounding areas, which includes a conservation reserve and the UniverCity student housing area near Simon Fraser University.
During previous work on the Trans Mountain pipeline, an oil spill occurred on July 24, 2007, in which crude oil erupted from the pipeline and rained down on an area of Burnaby for nearly half an hour. The spill also saw oil leak into Burnaby sewers and Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. Another spill occurred on May 6, 2009, when nearly 200,000 litres of oil leaked from a Burnaby Mountain tank overnight.
While Kinder Morgan must still adhere to Burnaby’s environmental laws, the city’s council does not have complete control over pipeline construction. On the same day as the NEB ruling, a vote during the Union of BC Municipalities conference shot down Burnaby’s anti-pipeline resolution. The resolution presented a separate plan for barrel transportation that would avoid expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline, but lost by a mere 1.4 per cent (50.7 to 49.3).
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan told the Burnaby Now that the minor loss was due to other BC municipalities concerned they would have to deal with potential pipelines of their own. “They didn’t want that, so it was a very jealous kind of response,” said Corrigan. Corrigan has been vocal about the Trans Mountain expansion and has been publicly against the idea since public discussion began in 2012.
In August, the City of Vancouver entered a court case requesting the NEB take into account climate change as a consideration to cease expansion on the Trans Mountain pipeline. The case calls for a court review, which will determine by January 2016 whether or not the subject of climate change should affect development of the pipeline.
Kinder Morgan has stressed however that if the Trans Mountain expansion does not occur within Burnaby Mountain, the company will have to consider drilling into residential areas.