Break in Kinder Morgan Pipeline Route in NEB’s Hands
From Ian Stephen – WaterWealth Project
Chilliwack — The nation’s eyes are on Burnaby this week as National Energy Board hearings on the route of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project get under way. Meanwhile residents of Chilliwack B.C. await the NEB decision on whether Kinder Morgan will fill a 1.8 km gap in the pipeline route in the wake of a realignment hearing last week.
In March 2017 after plans to route segment 6.3 of the expansion project along BC Hydro’s right-of-way proved non-viable, Kinder Morgan applied to the NEB for a realignment. The realignment would move the new pipeline into the existing Trans Mountain pipeline right-of-way.
However the move was strongly contested by the City of Chilliwack, local freshwater advocates the WaterWealth Project, and area residents, because the realignment would place the new pipeline across elementary school grounds and into residential neighbourhoods closer to city drinking-water wells. The S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance (STSA), representing 13 Stó:lō First Nations, took no position on the realignment, telling the NEB that the company had failed to provide information needed to make an evaluation and had failed to consult on traditional ecological knowledge. STSA asked the NEB to intervene to hold Kinder Morgan accountable for effective communications with First Nations.
A hearing was held January 15 through January 18 under heavy police presence in Chilliwack. The dominant issue throughout was City of Chilliwack drinking-water wells close to the proposed pipeline route. In closing arguments Thursday, WaterWealth Program Director Ian Stephen said “The choice before the Panel now is simple” and that the NEB “can make this community safer, or not.”
If Kinder Morgan do not get the decision they are looking for, the Trans Mountain project will be left with no route across segment 6.3 in the heart of Chilliwack. An alignment that BC Hydro would accept, along the southern edge of their right-of-way, would result in 605 metres of the pipeline outside of the general corridor previously approved by the NEB so would require yet another NEB process as Kinder Morgan try to fill the gap in their expansion project.
NEB staff said that it could be up to 12 weeks before a ruling on the realignment is issued.
Ian Stephen [email protected]