Chilliwack, BC. On August 24, five members of the PIPE UP Network hiked to the site of Kinder Morgan's June 27 oil spill near the Coquihalla Summit. Three of those present were part of a gathering at the Summit on August 17. David Ellis, of Vancouver organized that gathering of First Nations leaders, environmentalists and community representatives from along the Trans Mountain Pipeline, including members of the PIPE UP Network.
The August 17 gathering was able to tour the site of an oil spill that had happened in early June. However Kinder Morgan refused their request to tour a larger spill site from a larger spill on June 27.
Curious about the progress of the oil spill clean-up almost two months after the spill, the five PIPE UP members gathered on the Trans Canada Trail, just below the Coquihalla Summit at 1:00 p.m. on August 24. They hiked seven kilometres down the trail to the spill site. What they saw surprised them. “David Ellis told us about the steep terrain the pipeline traverses and had mentioned the 'Coquihalla jump off', said PIPE UP spokesperson, Michael Hale.
“I wasn't prepared for what I saw. The top of the Coquihalla Summit is the highest point of any pipeline in Canada. From the that point near the Summit, the pipeline descends over three hundred metres vertically in a very short distance. The age of the pipe and the steepness of the descent would surely increase the likelihood of a major spill,” said Hale.
“Judging by the amount of work Kinder Morgan is doing in the area, they are obviously worried about leaks,” said Chilliwack resident Ian Stephen. “In addition to the two reported spill sites, we saw a half dozen other repairs. At the larger of the two spill sites, there is a length of over thirty metres of pipe that has been dug up. In the area of the 'Jump Off' they are doing extensive slope stabilization and scaling.”
“I’m not impressed with their oil spill response capability,” said Chilliwack resident Paul Aquino. “It seems that they rely on members of the public and their own staff to report spills.” But in an 1100 kilometre pipeline through the remote country of the Fraser River watershed, who knows how many leaks there are. They are completely reactive and their spill response seems to rely on large napkins to mop it up.”
PIPE UP member Wendy Major wonders how many school districts along the sixty-year-old pipeline have had a close look at their emergency manuals. "I'm concerned whether there are procedures in place to deal with toxic vapors that off-gas from spills. How will the children be protected against toxic gases? There have been eighty leaks and spills over the lifetime of the pipeline. The number excavations and open repairs we saw worries me. Every leak has lasting effects to the land and water that affect our quality of life," said Major.
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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Michael Hale – firstname.lastname@example.org 604-799-3391
A request by Ellis to tour one of two recent spill sites on August 17 was denied by Kinder Morgan, who stated that since it was an active work site, they were unable to accommodate a tour (see August 13 email from Kinder Morgan, below). However, the site is near the Trans Canada Trail and Trails BC had stated clearly that hikers could pass through along the trail at off work times and under escort during work times (see August 12 email, below).
Ellis, a former fisheries biologist, whose current work takes him into the BC Interior, where he often travels along the Tran Mountain Pipeline route. Since hearing that Kinder Morgan has been shipping bitumen via the sixty-year old pipeline, Ellis has been informing himself about it. His findings cause him alarm.
Excerpts from our previous news release about the August 17 Coquihalla Summit meeting:
“It was an honour to stand with the dedicated individuals who took the time to participate in the Coquihalla Summit strategy session” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "The diversity of participants is an undeniable reflection of the growing opposition to the Harper government’s efforts to increase the production and transport of tar sands heavy crude," said Phillip.
The event was organized by David Ellis, a former commercial fisherman and fisheries planner, whose current work takes him to First Nations communities throughout the Fraser watershed crisscrossed by the pipeline. From his travels and research, Ellis has become alarmed about the effects of bitumen spills on the environment and local communities.
I would like to thank David Ellis for his tenacity and diligent efforts to expose the reality of the 'leaky garden hose' known as Kinder Morgan's 60 year old Trans Mountain Pipeline,” said Phillip. Kinder Morgan plans to increase their Trans Mountain pipeline to increase the carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day.
“It is time for the Prime Minister of Canada, the National Energy Board and the Province of BC to act now,” said Ellis. “They must close down the aging Trans Mountain Pipeline and forbid all future heavy oil through the Fraser watershed. If such action is not taken immediately, I predict a major leak will occur this winter, and bring economic catastrophe, to the western Canadian economy.”
"Insanity! Absolute insanity," declared Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. "Clearly, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline is the oldest, most rickety and subsequently the most dangerous pipeline in the Province." "In light of ongoing reports and evidence of leaks, this pipeline needs to be shut down and subjected to a thorough inspection."
The PIPE UP Network
The PIPE UP Network is made up of residents of Southwestern BC who have come together because of our concerns about the safety, environmental, and financial implications, of shipping tar sands along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Edmonton, AB to Vancouver, BC.
Members of the network are dedicated to educating themselves and their communities about the existing pipeline, plans for expansion, and alternatives to tar sands; showing that we have the power to make the needed changes.
August 13, 2013
Dear Mr. Ellis,
Thank you for your interest in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and for your email requesting transportation from Kinder Morgan Canada for your planned event in the Coquihalla Canyon on August 17, 2013. As our site is an active work location, there are a number of safety and related site access considerations that need to be adhered to with respect to having non employee individuals present while crews and equipment are working in the area. For these reasons, we unfortunately will not be able to accommodate your request at this time.
However we would like to extend and invitation to you and a few other individuals to an organized tour of some sites at a later point in time. We will work to identify some prospective dates along with details of our safety requirements which we will provide in due course.
Lizette Parsons Bell, ABC*
Project Lead, Stakeholder Engagement & Communications
C: 604 788 4170 | E: email@example.com
August 12, 2013
We have been advised by Kinder Morgan that we can indicate to those wishing to continue their journey on the Trans Canada Trail or want to walk or cycle the Trans Canada Trail through the Coquihalla Summit that they will be allowed or aided past their work site. Furthermore, it is unlikely that they will be working on weekends. However, they will have security on site to protect their equipment and their work site. We have no authority to advise people for any other purpose other than to walk or cycle the Trans Canada Trail through the summit.
Vice President and Southwest Regional Director