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Kinder Morgan pipeline has spilled six times in Jasper National Park

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline has spilled six times along its 158 kilometre route through Jasper National Park since 1954.

The Jasper Fitzhugh reports that a Trans Mountain media relations employee had stated on January 26 that there had never been any pipeline leaks or spills within the park, but that later Kinder Morgan Canada vice-president for operations Hugh Harden confirmed there had been six spills, including the second-largest leak in Trans Mountain’s history.

This article gives details about those spills and highlights one incident in which “a Canadian National Railway worker spotted an oil spill on the Trans Mountain pipeline just inside the park’s borders about 150 yards from the Athabasca River on the morning of June 25, 1973. For 12 hours, the pipeline leaked crude oil undetected, ultimately releasing approximately 125,000 litres over an estimated 200-square-foot area of the park. …Bruce Wilson, assistant park superintendent for Jasper National Park at the time, described the situation as ‘pretty lucky’. He said he was thankful that the spill did not reach the river, but added, ‘We can’t help but feel that where it can happen once, it can happen again.'”

The Fitzhugh also notes, “Since 1961 Trans Mountain has reported 82 spills to the National Energy Board. About 70 per cent occurred at pump stations while the remaining 30 per cent occurred along the pipeline’s route. Under NEB regulations only spills into a body of water or spills that are greater than 1,500 litres must be reported. Of the 82 spills, nine exceed that reporting threshold.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline has been in operation since 1953. It’s current capacity is about 300,000 barrels per day. Kinder Morgan says, “The Trans Mountain pipeline system is the only pipeline system in North America that transports both crude oil and refined products to the west coast.” The Trudeau government approved a proposed expansion of the 1,150 kilometre pipeline on November 29, 2016. The expansion will create a twinned pipeline increasing the nominal capacity of the system from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

The pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park, into the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, across the Vedder Fan aquifer and the municipality of Chilliwack’s protected groundwater zone, then across the Fraser River and to the Westridge Marine Terminal at Burrard Inlet for export on 400 supertankers a year. Overall, it would cross 1309 water courses in Alberta and British Columbia. It would also produce between 20 to 26 megatonnes of carbon pollution a year.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline since August 2011 by participating in marches, protests and civil disobedience actions, supporting chapter activism, petitions and a court action, writing blogs, and organizing numerous public events and a six-community speaking tour.

Kinder Morgan says it will start construction on the pipeline this September.