Pages tagged "spills"

Residents Highlight risk to local economy, lack of jobs, and toxic spills as Kinder Morgan makes official application to build new pipeline

logo-green-guy-100.pngLower Mainland, BC - The other shoe has dropped. Now there are two active applications to build tar sands pipelines across BC. Kinder Morgan’s proposal to add a new 540,000 barrel-per-day pipeline was submitted to the National Energy Board on December 16. PIPE UP, a network of residents of Southwestern BC, finds the application consistent with what BC residents have heard from the company in the past year-and-a-half and thinks British Columbians will want to be heard about how these projects could change their way of life. 

“They want to turn BC into a carbon corridor,” said Chilliwack resident Michael Hale. “This tar sands project exposes BC residents to all the risks of bitumen transport with few benefits. The question is: ‘Should we put communities, ecosystems, and coastal industries at risk so that Kinder Morgan can make huge profits at our expense?’”

Abbotsford resident Lynn Perrin stated: “I’ve been reading through the company’s enormous submission and don’t find their claims credible. There are pages and pages on the alleged economic benefits of the pipeline. I had to look hard to find it, but there are less than 100 permanent jobs in BC after construction is completed. The small number of permanent jobs is not worth the risks to school children, aquifers, rivers and wetlands.

“The company’s claims sound very similar to the ones made by Enbridge in their submission for the Northern Gateway project. That submission has been analyzed by economists such as Mark Lee of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Robyn Allan, former head of ICBC. Both conclude that there are ‘no net benefits for BC’. We need to take these warnings seriously,” said Perrin. 

“What community in BC wants to contend with the horror of a bitumen spill?” said Aldergrove resident Susan Davidson. “I think that a criterion for a world class spill response would be no spills at all. By that I mean not only no pipeline spill, but also no tanker truck spill and no rail spill. Of course the companies cannot meet that standard. We have seen the horrors of the tar sands spills in Burnaby in 2007, Kalamazoo Michigan in 2010 and Mayflower Arkansas earlier this year. The Trans Mountain Pipeline has had 80 spills over its lifetime. That is more than one per year (there were two spills this year). 

Davidson offered the following advice to the BC Government: “Listen to the people. Don’t allow shipment of this dangerous stuff through BC. We need an energy plan for BC that meets our energy needs sustainably, ensures prosperity for all and preserves our magnificent environment.” 


Members of the PIPE UP Network have spent the past year-and-a-half educating themselves and their neighbours on the pros and cons of the transport of oil sands diluted bitumen. PIPE UP will be filing for intervenor status in the National Energy Board hearings to raise concerns that relate to transporting the toxic heavy oil product through places within their communities.

For more information or for interviews, please contact: 

Susan Davidson,     Aldergrove        (604) 857-1400
Michael Hale,          Chilliwack          (604) 799-3391
Lynn Perrin,             Abbotsford        (604) 309-9369

PIPE UP Network

Activist pulls back curtain to show Kinder Morgan pipeline flaws and Kinder Morgan questions his credentials

Close up photo of Trans Mountain pipeline by David Ellis
Kinder Morgan has quietly been removing some 5005 cubic metres of oil-contaminated soil from its Trans Mountain pipeline near Coquihalla Canyon, near Hope since June 28, according to the National Energy Board (NEB). "I think there's been more oil spilled than they're saying," Vancouver-based pipeline critic David Ellis said, about the reported 25-barrel figure. And while a Kinder Morgan representative told the Vancouver Observer there were "no Kinder Morgan-branded trucks" moving any contaminated soil, NEB spokesperson Rebecca Taylor confirmed that soil was indeed being removed, a good part of it "definitely directly contaminated". Oil-soaked soil biodegrades over time, but can harm vegetation at its roots and can be toxic to animals if ingested.

Ellis has photographed places where the pipeline was exposed and corroded and signs indicating where pipeline anomalies may be. A bookseller specializing in Western First Nations literature and a former fisheries planner, Ellis raised an alarm when he saw trucks moving soil to Tervita Corporation in Richmond, which specializes in disposal of industrial waste.

Questioning credentials and demanding answers

Ellis treks out on weekends to pipeline excavation sites (where security has received orders not to let him pass) and frequently sends the NEB inquiries accompanied by photos about the pipeline's condition. By his estimation, there are 35 recent urgent repair sites along the pipeline where the company performed hydrostatic testing in October. The Texas-based company's plans to twin the aging pipeline and expand capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of oil per day, in his view, could place British Columbians at risk for a big spill, Ellis told the Vancouver Observer. 
Given that Coquihalla Canyon is a provincial park area teeming with wildlife (and only 40 kilometres from Hope), people should be relieved that Kinder Morgan has been removing the soil and replacing it. 
Except that four months and 600 truckloads later, the company is still taking out soil, and that leads him to believe something isn't right. Kinder Morgan spokesperson Andy Galarnyk insisted that "the large volume of soil removed (from Coquihalla Canyon) was not considered hazardous waste, but was removed to meet strict clean up criteria because of its location within a provincial park." The NEB agreed that its cleanup standards mean removal of soil until it is tested to be completely safe. Galarnyk added that Ellis "does does not have any experience or qualifications to comment on pipeline operations".

But the bookseller, who has a Masters in Science from UBC and extensively documents the pipeline around the Coquihalla and Kamloops, has raised questions that are getting harder to dismiss. 

Oil-soaked soil 'under-reported' - Trans Mountain - Coquihalla Canyon

November 1, 2013 - Kamloops - The Daily News

Oil-soaked soil 'under-reported'

By Mike Youds Daily News Staff Reporter

National Energy Board says 5,000 cubic metres of earth removed from site of July spill


The National Energy Board says that more than 5,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil have been trucked out of the Coquihalla Canyon since a pipeline spill last summer, leading a critic to believe the spill was much larger than reported. 
The volume reported by the NEB would represent removal of almost 600 truckloads of contaminated material from the site. 
Patrick Smyth, business unit leader with the NEB in Calgary, cited the figure in an email to pipeline critic David Ellis. Ellis questioned the delay in releasing the figure. 

"The volume says the spill was greater and it's been under-reported," Ellis said. "There needs to be a full investigation of this and the NEB should make it public. What went on down there? A pinhole leak or a break?" 

Kinder Morgan Canada shut down Trans Mountain pipeline last summer due to two spills that were described as minor at the time. In June, a spill occurred near Kingsvale, south of Merritt, followed by a second in the canyon two weeks later. 
As a result, Kinder Morgan set about repairing the leaks and remediating the sites. All of the contaminated soil was trucked to the Tervita Corporation in Richmond. 

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Alarm bells ring with new report of B.C.'s oil-spill system

Michael Smyth: Alarm bells ring with new report of B.C.'s oil-spill system

Premier Christy Clark is concerned that B.C. is not prepared for a large coastal oil spill.

Photograph by: Jason Payne , PNG

British Columbia is not prepared for a large coastal oil spill and the spill-prevention-and response system needs a major upgrade, especially before any new oil pipelines are approved.

That will be the bottom line in a new report on the province's oil-spill system to be released this week by the Christy Clark government.

As B.C. debates two major oil-pipeline projects — Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline — the government hired Alaska-based Nuka Research to investigate our coastal-spill system.

The company's report has been received by the government, I'm told, and Clark hinted at its contents in comments last week.

"We are woefully under resourced," Clark said, adding the spill-response system must be improved, especially "before any more heavy oil comes off the coast."

British Columbia already has hundreds of oil tankers passing through coastal waters and this week's report will question whether the spill-response system is adequate even for existing tanker traffic, I'm told.

The report will echo earlier concerns raised about B.C.'s inadequate preparation for a major coastal oil spill.

"Even a moderately sized spill would overwhelm the province's ability to respond and could result in a significant liability for government," said briefing notes prepared in June for B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak and obtained by The Canadian Press.

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Experts say dilbit could have caused Mayflower, Arkansas oil spill



Chris Tackett
Energy / Energy Disasters
September 20, 2013

According to experts in the failure of oil and gas pipelines, there are a handful of factors that can contribute to a pipeline rupture, like the one on Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline that spilled toxic diluted bitumen or dilbit from the Canadian tar sands into a Mayflower, Arkansas lake and subdivision.

Those factors include pressure swings within the pipe, reversing the direction of the flow of oil, the quality of the original pipe construction and a build-up of hydrogen atoms inside tiny cracks in the pipe.

Elizabeth Douglass reports at The Arkansas Times that all of these factors were in play in the Pegasus pipeline rupture.

Some operators may change their pumping pressures and their cycles to accommodate customers or to push more crude through the pipe faster, which generates more fees. Exxon, for example, increased the amount of dilbit flowing through the Pegasus by 50 percent in 2009. To accomplish that without installing larger pipe, Exxon had to send oil through the pipe faster, either by adding pumping stations or increasing the overall operating pressure, or a mix of the two.

Three years earlier, in 2006, Exxon also reversed the direction of the pipeline's flow, a move that would automatically alter the impact of pressure cycles by changing where the highest and lowest pressures hit along the pipeline.

Big changes in the internal pressure cause pipe to repeatedly flex, and that can cause special problems in crack-prone vintage pipes like the Pegasus. Exxon's pipe was doubly challenged, however, because its pipe was known to be exceptionally brittle around the seams. Brittleness can cause pipes to fracture instead of flex, just as the way wire will break after being bent back and forth repeatedly

And pipeline experts suspect the makeup of the tar sands oil or dilbit Exxon was transporting played a role, as well...

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Even moderate oil spill would 'overwhelm' B.C. resources, say officials

Documents reveal Coast Guard lack needed 'environmental expertise'

Even moderate oil spill would 'overwhelm' B.C. resources, say officials

A worker uses a small boat to move logs on the Douglas Channel at dusk in Kitimat, B.C., in this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 photo. Officials in British Columbia privately warned the province lacks the ability to manage oil spills from existing and future oil traffic, and even a moderate spill would overwhelm their ability to respond, documents show.

Photograph by: Canadian Press , The Canadian Press, Vancouver Sun

Officials in British Columbia have privately warned the province lacks the ability to manage oil spills from existing and expanded oil traffic, and even a moderate spill would overwhelm their ability to respond, documents show.

Ottawa's decision to deal with coastal oil spills from a base in Quebec would make it much harder to contain spills here, and Transport Canada and the Coast Guard lack the needed "environmental expertise" to manage them, officials said in the documents obtained by The Canadian Press under freedom of information laws.

The notes were written by B.C. Environment Ministry officials for the incoming minister's briefing book in June, and other concerns were detailed by emergency response officials in memos from last year.

Environment Ministry bureaucrats voiced a range of misgivings for minister Mary Polak. "The Ministry of Environment, as the ministry responsible for preparedness, prevention, response and recovery for spills, is not adequately staffed and resourced to meet the existing and emerging expectations to address spills," they wrote in the briefing book.

"Even a moderately-sized spill would overwhelm the province's ability to respond and could result in a significant liability for government. ... The industry requirements, established by Transport Canada, are perceived as being insufficient in both scope and scale. For example, in both Washington state and Alaska industry requirements are far in excess of what is required in B.C."

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Pipeline activists tour spill site

PIPE-UP says steep slopes increase risks; Kinder Morgan says safety is paramount


PIPE-UP tour

PIPE-UP members (left to right) Ian Stephen, Suzanne Hale, Michael Hale, Wendy Major and Paul Aquino hiked to the site of a June oil spill near the Coquihalla Summit.  Photograph by: PIPE UP Network

Five members of a Chilliwack- based environmental group recently hiked to the site of a June oil spill on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline near the Coquihalla Summit and they didn’t like what they found.

“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw,” said PIPE-UP spokesperson Michael Hale. “The top of the Coquihalla Sum- mit is the highest point of any pipeline in Canada. From the that point near the summit, the pipeline descends over 300 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.”

Hale and four other members of PIPE-UP gathered on Aug. 24 on the Trans Canada Trail just below the trail. They then hiked seven kilometres to the spill site.

“Judging by the amount of work Kinder Morgan is doing in the area, they are obviously worried about leaks,” Chilliwack resident Ian Stephen said in a PIPE-UP press release. “In addition to the two reported spill sites, we saw a half dozen other repairs.”

Read more at:

Kinder Morgan’s oil spill clean up unsettles advocacy group

Jenny Uechi - Vancouver Observer

Posted: Aug 29th, 2013
Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan repair of leaky pipeline
Photo by PIPE UP Network

Kinder Morgan‘s attempt to clean up a recent oil spill has left five members of PIPE UP Network,  a citizen’s advocacy group, worried.

“There were still some oil-coated rocks and piles of debris, but what they were actually doing was replacing some sections of the old pipe,” said Michael Hale, who toured the site of Kinder Morgan’s June 27 spill site near the Coquihalla Summit last Saturday.

Hale was surprised by how steep the pipeline’s descent was from the Coquihalla Summit, and worried that the age of the pipeline – sixty years – and the steepness of the descent might contribute to future spills, he said. The group saw some pipeline repairs, and a length of the pipeline that had been dug up near the larger spill site.

Kinder Morgan had done “much more than one might have expected” considering that it was a relatively small spill” – around 25 barrels, he added.

But Wendy Major, a retired Chilliwack schoolteacher, said that even a small spill was a major cause of concern for people who live near the Trans Mountain pipeline. By her estimation, there are 23 schools within a 200-metre range of the pipeline stretch from Hope to Burnaby.

“I’m concerned whether there are procedures in place to deal with toxic vapors that off-gas from spills,” Major said in a press release.

“How will the children be protected against toxic gases? There have been 80 leaks and spills over the lifetime of the pipeline. The number excavations and open repairs we saw worries me.”

Read more:

Press Release: Kinder Morgan’s leaky pipeline


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 – 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.

Kind regards,


Lizette Parsons Bell, ABC*

Project Lead, Stakeholder Engagement & Communications

C: 604 788 4170 | E:


August 12, 2013

Hi David,

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.


Léon Lebrun
Vice President and Southwest Regional Director
Trails BC
Phone 604-942-6768

Oil pipeline rupture by quake remains a worry

Kinder Morgan is expected to carry out more research on the potential seismic risk of a quake rupturing its Trans Mountain pipeline and spilling oil into Burrard Inlet. 

Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew says a just-completed review of area geologic faults funded by Kinder Morgan is a good start but more work is needed to answer outstanding questions about the danger. 

Some geologists in the past have suggested a fault triggered the historic slump of the north face of Burnaby Mountain an estimated 15,000 years ago. 

Drew's nightmare scenario is for some similarly violent seismic event to strike today near the pipeline Kinder Morgan intends to twin and close to the Westridge Marine Terminal, where large amounts of oil is stored in tanks on a hill above the inlet.  

"It doesn't take much land movement to result in a fracture to a hard object like a metal pipe," Drew said.

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