By Grant Granger, Burnaby NewsLeader, August 05, 2011
A Vancouver-based environmental group intends to use the Burnaby site of a dramatic oil pipeline rupture four years ago to emphasize its opposition to a planned expansion by Kinder Morgan.
Wilderness Committee (WC) will hold a demonstration on Saturday, Aug. 27 beginning where Hastings Street turns into Inlet Drive. That's the spot where Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline was ruptured by road construction crews working July 24, 2007. Oil spewed 12 metres in the air flowing downhill toward Burrard Inlet and hitting as many as 100 homes in the area.
The protest is scheduled to coincide with mass civil disobedience planned for Washington, D.C., to protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to carry crude oil from northern Alberta to American refineries.
Along with opposing Keystone XL, WC has set it sights on Kinder Morgan's plans to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from the oil sands and its terminal in North Burnaby.
WC says the expansion will mean tankers bigger than the ones now using the dock will be sailing in Burrard Inlet. The current ones, claim the Wilderness Committe, carry more than three times the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in March 1989.
Sven Biggs, Wilderness Committee outreach director, said the event will start at 2 p.m. with protesters marching down the hill to the gates of Kinger Morgan's Westridge Terminal.
"It's a dangerous place to have tanker traffic. It's shallow and narrow," said Biggs.
He added current regulations wouldn't allow tanker traffic in the waterway, but since it was built in the 1950s it was grandfathered in.
"If it went through the regulatory process today it wouldn't be approved," said Biggs. "There's a lot of concern for us (to have even larger tankers allowed)."
Biggs also pointed out the Auditor General has warned there is no plan in place to deal with a large oil spill if it happens in Canadian waters.
"Taxpayers would be on the hook if it were to happen," said Biggs.
A Kinder Morgan spokesman said in an email the company is aware of the event and will monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the public and its facilities. He did not offer any further comment.
Kinder Morgan announced the expansion plans in February saying the demand to ship oil to Asian markets is greater than what the company can accommodate.
According to a Globe and Mail story published in February, Kinder Morgan offered oil producers 50,000 barrels of day loaded at Westridge, but received bids for 95,000 barrels. The company ended up signing contracts for 54,000.