Residents unsettled by constant excavation around Kinder Morgan pipeline

Excavation around pipelines. 24 hour security. Trucks with "contaminated soil" written on the side. Residents of Abbotsford and Chilliwack are wondering what it all means. 

Photo of dug-up pipeline by Ian Stephen

Photo by Ian Stephen


Chilliwack resident Ian Stephen was alarmed to hear that there was excavation going on around the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, around five kilometres east of Bridal Veil Falls. It was a late afternoon on Friday, October 11, right before Thanksgiving weekend, but he drove down near the falls to see what was happening. 

"This excavation was close to home, so I was curious," he said. "This pipeline goes right over our aquifer."

He walked around, camera in hand, until he came across part of the pipeline that was dug up and covered up by a white tarp.

"The excavation was quite large -- probably about sixty feet long. And it looked like some new surface had been applied along that length," he said. He saw thin wooden stakes planted in the ground where more excavation was planned. Finally, what caught his eye was a large pile of soil from the excavation covered with black plastic. 

"I didn't get a chance to look under the black plastic to see if the earth there was contaminated (by oil) or not," he said. 

Stephen, along with Michael Hale from Pipe Up Network, a local group of residents, worry that the excavations are taking place due to small leaks coming from holes in the pipeline, causing soil in surrounding areas to be contaminated.

"They may be small leaks: if it were a spill, the NEB would have to report it, but pipeline companies are allowed to leak up to three percent of what they're carrying per year," said Hale. But he worried about the soil in the area because of stories of trucks filled with "contaminated soil" moving out of pipeline areas in Abbotsford. 

Barbara Gard, an Abbotsford landowner lives near Sumas Mountain Road and Ward Road. Kinder Morgan has right-of-way on her property. There has been a lot of digging along the pipeline for nearly a year now, she said, and she wonders why the work continues to this day. 

"There was a lot of work going on between those roads: there were between six and 10 vehicles, excavators, and trucks that said 'contaminated soil' written on the side," she said. "I don't know what's going on with the pipeline that is requiring so much work. They still have it open, and recently they've placed a 24-hour security guard there."

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