Trans Mountain pipeline targeted in new report from environmental groups

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A new report highlights concerns an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline could increase the risk of a major oil spill and that taxpayers could end up paying for much of any potential cleanup.

The 12-page report, titled  “Financial Liability for Kinder Morgan”, was released today (January 24) by the Georgia Strait Alliance, the Living Oceans Society, West Coast Environmental Law, and the Wilderness Committee.

Energy company Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin its Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries oil from Alberta to a marine terminal in Burnaby. The latest version of the plan would see the pipeline’s capacity nearly tripled to 890,000 barrels per day.

The environmental groups behind the new report express worry an expanded pipeline will increase the risk of a devastating spill by bringing more tanker traffic to local waters. They estimate the larger pipeline would require standard-sized tankers to make around 460 trips annually through Burrard Inlet to export the oil.

The report says mandatory insurance for ship owners and federally governed compensation funds could only cover up to $1.34 billion of the potential costs from a large spill. It suggests taxpayers could be left to pay any additional costs, which could amount to billions of dollars if there is a spill nearing the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

The report further claims the ability to recover costs through civil legal action would be ineffective because ship owners are often independent operating companies with few assets. It also notes no spill-response funds exist that provide compensation for non-market losses such as long-term ecosystem damage.

In an emailed statement to the Straight, a Kinder Morgan spokesperson said tankers have been operating in local waters for decades “without incident”.

“Along with stringent regulations there are several layers of safety in-place to help safely transport these ships,” said Michael Davies, Kinder Morgan Canada’s director of marine development. “Tanker traffic in local waters is managed by local, experienced organizations and every tanker is double-hulled, escorted and tethered to tugs with two pilots on-board.”

Davies also expressed confidence there are adequate measures in place to fund any spill response.

“The size of the ($1.3 billion) pool of funds available has been sized to ensure there are sufficient resources to deal with even improbable events,” he said. “In the unlikely event that these funds were exceeded there are a range of government policy solutions that could be implemented to ensure the costs were recovered appropriately and the tax payer remains protected.”

Comments (9) Add New Comment
Forward Thinker
What absurd assumption that 1.3 billion dollars would be enough to clean up the inevitable spill. The relatively small spill ( compared to a tanker event) into the Kalamazoo has already cost close to that and the clean up is not close to complete.
It would be the government which would bear the clean up, Iand I do not mean the Alberta Government who benefit much more than we on the coast. Who would compensate those whose jobs or businesses are affected? Certainly not Kinder Morgan or the oil companies. The Feds might be on the hook for SOME Of the cost but most of the economic cost would fall on BC. I am outraged at the assertions that this pipeline, and the attendant tanker traffic, should be forced on us all for the benefit for others.
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devils advocate
yawn...what a surprize eco groups against oil....
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devil's excrement
devil's excrement = bitumen, essentially tar, and requires 12 barrels of water heated by burning natural gas to temperature at least 50 degrees Celsiusto, in order to separate one barrel of it from the tar sand. . .

man cannot admit he is addicted to oil.

oil is the drug. man can't get enough.

man needs this exchange.

Canada is the dealer.

It's time to deal so cut the deck

why do elements of life on earth have to die to support man's addiction to oil ?

man is proving to be the most unintelligent species on earth.

fucking tragic.
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Save Vancouver
@devil's excrement - Yawn, typical eco-fascist bafflegab. Did you send it on a smartphone or computer made from bamboo shoots? If not: Hypocrite!
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man's addition to oil
it's about get off your addiction to oil. who ever has the most oil and money wins? haven't we as a collective species learned anything from previous oil spills on earth and land? if anyone supports more oil projects you are condoning oil companies, governments, and countries to image control efforts to white-wash what is distinctly the colour of black. by allowing these projects to take place you are basically gambling with the fate of earth. but many of you can't see it because of your addiction to oil and love of money. black oil leaves a huge slick over anything and everything and kills ecosystems, decimated animal populations, and wipes away human livehoods on contact. just when we thought it couldn't get any worse you may as well be building our coffins because you sure as hell are driving the hearse with every tree you clear cut, every drop of water you contaminate, every molecule of oxygen, every animal, every species killed, every person infected, every particle of light that turns black with your love and addiction to oil. are you really ready to take this chance? why don't you hold onto earth like you hold your money and oil? spend all your love on earth? why is it so hard? i guess it's hard to talk with money and oil in your mouth.
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forgive me
@Save Vancouver:

before you slam me for being a "hyprocrite" watch youself ...first. do you breathe air and drink water?
while you enjoy "living" here on earth keep in mind basic fundamentals required: air, water, fire, earth, all surrounds you in an environment that can grow food and provide shelter on earth, if earth is allowed time to recover from pollution and climate warming.

so you want to keep the status quo and continue to extract every last drop of oil from beneath the Earth's surface until there's nothing left? at what expense? what for? can you recover the catastrophic environmental losses to Earth? how many centeries will it take--if ever? what is your game plan when there's no more fresh water because you've wasted it on extracting your precious oil? what is your game plan for when there's no more fresh air? what's your game plan when there's no earth to grow fruit and vegetables?

don't complain about the affects of global warming, like flooding, or droughts, or severe cold or heat when you don't expect it or want it, and don't complain about the rain, or the wind, or the tornadoes, or hurricanes, or forest fires, or the lack of oxygen in the air, or the starvation, or diseases. please don't say anything at all because we''ve heard it all before. you're not saying anything new man. what's it going to take to change your mind to change your game plan man?

while man continues to exist as if he's the only life that matters man will reap what he sows.

man is responsible for protecting and sustaining all fundamental elements of life on earth contained in the air, water, sea and on land...if he wants to live on earth.
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you can be sure
@Save Vancouver

you can be sure that my fossil foot print is much smaller than yours....

i walk or take public transit.
i don't own or use a car.
i buy and support local farms and farmers.
i recycle all paper, plastic, glass.
i plant trees, a garden, and flowers.
i use energy saving lightbulbs.
i turn off appliances and lights not in use.
i wash my dishes.
i am mostly vegetarian only eat organic eggs, chicken that have had a humane life and death.
i don't support farm factories.
i don't use plastic bags.
i conserve water.
i brush my teeth without running the water.
i take shorter showers.
i have my own coffee/tea thermous.
i have my own containers for food.
i batch errands.
i don't shop in malls.
i shop locally.
i don't shop online.
i don't have a computer.
i give away what i don't need or use.
i don't use plastic anything.
i support businesses that support and sustain earth.

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Forward Thinker
Devils Advocate
I am proud to stand up for the environment.your steering comment calling those against this pipeline eco fasists, Shows how little you know or care about how sustainable our earth is.
Personally, I am not opposed to all pipelines but until companies take safety seriously and put safety ahead of profits, I will oppose pipelines trucks, and trains to move the bitumen. In my mind, you can refine then ship, find a better route or leave it in the ground.
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devil's excrement @Forward Thinker
Dear Forward Thinker: are you really a forward thinker? i've made my point. how unfortunate you are unable to see it. man is part of the environment on earth -- not the entire environment. you seem to be oblivious as to the total amount of environmental destruction any pipeline causes and the wildlife that (used to) live there. i read your posts too and i don't always agree with you but i don't call you names. i'm thinking about the big picture, forward thinker, who are you thinking about...man?

Woodland Caribou - Nature Canada

http://naturecanada.ca/pdf/NGP-BCN_NC_evidence_caribou.pdf
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