Hancock here: Hi all: My most important comment to our Eagle Followers:
Never has a moment in time, a public response to environmental degradation our your and my kids survival been so important.
We need to shut down the Tar Sands Pipelines -- including the one now transporting pollution to China that passes through the Vancouver Harbour. Below is a group who have been approaching this issue from the Sea inland. Please get involved.
'Dilbit down the Fraser'
Pair believes pipeline should never have been built down the Coquihalla
River, a tributary of the invaluable Fraser River.
The Kamloops Daily News June 17, 2013
By Mike Youds
Daily News Staff Reporter
Never mind expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline through the Coquihalla
corridor, the 60-year-old system should never have been built down the
Fraser River tributary in the first place, environmentalists say.
Kinder Morgan maintains that there has never been a major spill on the
old pipeline, that the system has an indefinite lifespan and that they
are constantly monitoring it.
That’s cold comfort to David Ellis and Roy Sakata, former commercial
fishermen who say the aging pipeline is a disaster in the making.
“No more dilbit down the Fraser,” Ellis said on a recent walk along the
pipeline corridor near the Coquihalla summit, referencing the term for
diluted bitumen. “It’s an outrageous situation — getting away with
sending four tankers a day down the Fraser.”
Now a bookseller specializing in rare books about B.C., Ellis has become
a persistent critic of the pipeline. His interest was piqued in part by
a book, The Building of Trans Mountain: Canada’s First Oil Pipeline
Across the Rockies, written by Neill Wilson and Frank Taylor, and
published by the consortium that built the system in the early 1950s.
The book offers an intriguing glimpse into what was an engineering
marvel in its time, a time when environmental standards were virtually
“The building of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline ranks among the
important industrial achievements of Canada,” the authors wrote in
florid prose characteristic of the era.
It’s not the pipeline itself that was remarkable. Pipelines had come
along about a century prior to the 1950s.
The terrain it crosses — traversing B.C.’s rugged mountains — is
exceptional to this day, Ellis contended.
“In all, the route travels through 50 miles of wheatfields, 200 miles of
rolling timberlands, 398 miles of mountains, valleys, plateaus and
canyons and 70 miles of farmland,” the book notes.
More than 750 maps were needed to examine the right-of-way, which in
1952 crossed highways 56 times and railways 24 times. Even in those
days, when settlement and population were a fraction of what they are
today, 3,000 property easements were required.
All of this took a mere 18 months from start to finish.
A first-hand look at routing along the Coquihalla River is an eye
opener. The pipeline falls steeply down loose talus slopes. During
construction, heavy equipment was lowered by steel cables to excavate
the pipeline trench and operated within the river channel.
“There are no other pipelines in the world that go down these steep
inclines. I can’t find anywhere where they go over cliffs like that, and
it’s under pressure, tremendous pressure.”
The risks have only increased over time, he said. The renewable
resources of the Fraser — Pacific salmon, chiefly — are too precious to
hang in the balance.
“Mitigation is always difficult in river systems,” said Sakata, a
teacher and consultant to First Nations. “When you’re in an ocean
environment, you can’t remove it easily, but you can corral it. Here, it
will flow into the Coquihalla and into the Fraser. It goes into the
Fraser delta. That’s where it ends up.”
Wednesday’s spill at Kingsvale, south of Merritt, was a minor one. There
have been 78 spills along the system since 1961, according to the Trans
Mountain website. About 70 per cent of those spills were at pump
stations and terminals, equipped with containment systems. The rest
occurred along the pipeline, 16 of them involving releases of crude oil.
None of the spills occurred in open water, the company says.
At a routing open house last week in Kamloops, company officials
indicated there may be alternatives along the Coquihalla corridor.
“We’re still looking at the canyon route and assessing options,” said
Greg Toth, senior project director. Telus and Spectra Energy also
operate pipelines through the corridor, he noted.
Expanding the system provides a chance to revisit the project built in
the 1950s, he said. Though environmental standards are much higher,
technology and construction standards have also increased substantially.
“I think the challenges are in the calculating of environmental factors
and impact, and to
construct the pipeline in the most environmentally friendly way
possible,” Toth said.
While the area is rocky and subject to significant flood events, the
pipeline is buried to protect it from external elements, he added. They
have done assessments of seismic hazards in the corridor.
“We’re pretty comfortable with the safety of the pipeline in the event
of a seismic event.”
Dilbit — diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands — is of particular
concern to environmentalists. Ellis learned only recently that Kinder
Morgan has been shipping dilbit through the Trans Mountain pipeline for
the past 30 years.
Critics argue that the product is more corrosive than lighter crude oil
products and would sink in
water if spilled, making cleanup almost impossible in a river. The issue
has been a contentious one at the Enbridge hearings on the Northern
Gateway pipeline proposal, with the oil industry maintaining that dilbit
does not sink in water and is no more corrosive than other products.
Neither Ellis nor Sakata is a specialist on pipelines, but they believe
there are vital questions that need to be answered.
“What would be very important to ask is, what is the spill control
capability, both in terms of timeline and how they would stop the flow?”
After setting the bar with five minimum conditions for its approval of
heavy-oil pipelines, the provincial government announced immediately
after the spring election that it cannot support Enbridge’s Northern
Gateway project at this point.
Yet the same conditions apply to the Kinder Morgan expansion proposal.
Ellis doesn’t believe they can be met with the existing system. Do they
intend to enhance their spill capability and what assurances can they
provide of a response rapid enough to prevent an environmental disaster,
the likes of which this province has never seen?
“I think my concern from an environmental point of view is that my whole
life has depended on the ocean,” said Sakata, whose father fished before
he did. “Our future generations — what are we passing on to them?
“The big issue is you don’t want it getting into the river. That’s my
perception as a grandparent.”