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National Energy Board approves Kinder Morgan terminal construction that could start in September

Kinder Morgan is planning a massive expansion of its Westridge Marine Terminal (top photo), but activists trained last weekend to disrupt construction on the terminal from the water (bottom photo by Emma Cassidy).

The National Energy Board says that its conditions have been met for Texas-based Kinder Morgan to proceed with a massive expansion of its Westridge Marine Terminal which is situated on Burrard Inlet and within the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. The expansion of the terminal is to accommodate the tripling of the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from its current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day and to service the loading of more than 400 245-metre long Aframax-size export tankers every year over the next 20 to 50 years.

The Burrard Inlet is a shallow-sided coastal fjord that separates the City of Vancouver from the North Shore Mountains, where the communities of West Vancouver and the City and District of North Vancouver are located. The terminal itself is located in the province’s third largest city, Burnaby.

The Canadian Press reports, “Trans Mountain couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but the company’s website says terminal construction was set to begin in September.”

That website further says, “Trans Mountain’s expansion at the Westridge Marine Terminal includes a new dock complex with three berths, a utility dock to moor tugs, boom boats and emergency response vessels, additional delivery pipelines and an extension of the land along the shoreline to accommodate new equipment. The new dock complex will increase loading capacity from one Aframax-size tanker to the ability to load three Aframax-size tankers. Three new 30-inch delivery lines will be laid in a tunnel from Burnaby Terminal to supply each berth at the Westridge Marine Terminal.”

The Canadian Press notes, “The new provincial government [in British Columbia] warned the company earlier this month that it can’t begin work on public land until it gets final approval from the province. …[But] B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman has said the storage facility and marine terminal in Burnaby are on private property…”

BNN adds, “The Westridge marine terminal on the south shore of steep-sided Burrard Inlet is also partially located on federal land and waters managed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which is reviewing the building permit application, spokeswoman Danielle Jang said by email last week.”

In October 2015, Metro News reported, “The scope of ‘worst case scenario’ at Westridge Marine Terminal has been a topic of debate at the NEB’s hearings into the proposed expansion. The City of Vancouver estimates a worst case spill would expose a million people to toxic fumes, kill 100,000 sea- and shorebirds and cause $1.2 billion in economic losses, much higher than Kinder Morgan’s own modeling.”

Furthermore, the National Energy Board has admitted that the tanker traffic from the terminal “is likely to result in significant adverse effects to the southern resident killer whale”. That refers to the estimated 80 orca whales that live off the coast of Vancouver that should be protected under the Species at Risk Act.

The Trans Mountain pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands through Jasper National Park (where it has spilled six times), across the drinking water supply for the Coldwater Indian Band near Kamloops, across Chilliwack’s shallow Sardis-Vedder aquifer, and into the Lower Mainland area to the terminal for export on 400 supertankers a year. Overall, the pipeline would cross 1309 water courses in Alberta and British Columbia. It would also produce between 20 to 26 megatonnes of upstream carbon pollution a year. Kinder Morgan has not secured the consent of two-thirds of the 120 Indigenous nations situated along the 1,150 kilometre pipeline route.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the project in November 2016.

The Council of Canadians is calling for a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050. The life span of the Trans Mountain pipeline could exceed that by decades. We have been opposing the project since August 2011.