With Kinder Morgan in the news regularly, and with opponents clammering for the Trans Mountain Pipeline project to be shut down, I thought I’d look at how it affects me and the community I live in.
The proposed new pipeline will carry 3 times as much diluted bitumen (or dilbit) as the existing pipeline. While some say that pipelines are safe, others will look at the Kalamazoo disaster and say otherwise.
Probability of disaster aside, let’s take a look at some of the hazards that could face Coquitlam:
1) Inhalation/ingestion can cause respiratory tract infection, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, vomiting, irritation, lung damage, chemical pneumonia, central nervous system damage, loss of consciousness, and death.
2) It is carcinogenic
3) It may affect fetal development
4) Toxic gases form upon combustion
5) Vapour accumulation can explode
The Port of Vancouver’s spill response time must be under 6 hours, however in the rest of the province, that can increase up to 72 hours. Not only is time important due to health hazards, but dilbit, unlike conventional oil, is heavier than water and will sink. According to the Spills of Diluted Bitumen from Pipelines study, by National Academies of Science, we do not possess the technology to properly clean up a dilbit spill in water.
While exact numbers are difficult to find, general consensus, based on past disasters, is that the evacuation zone should be roughly one mile, or 1.6 kilometers. Possible reasons for evacuation could be earthquakes, major spills, and/or fire, to name a few. Should the Trans Mountain pipeline project go ahead, most of Coquitlam-Maillardville would be in a potential evacuation zone. Dilbit fires can burn for days, and the fumes can be smelled up to 50 kilometers away, so residents shouldn’t expect to return home quickly, in this event.
What can Coquitlam do?
While John Horgan claims to oppose the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the province has still not forced Kinder Morgan to remove its illegal spawning mats, which have been placed in 5 BC streams. Due in part to a lack of action by the province, the city of Burnaby has taken matters into its own hands. It’s time for other cities, like Coquitlam, to stand-up for their constituents and do the same.
We live in a world that is moving toward renewable energy; there is no reason to invest in growing our fossil fuel infrastructure. We also live in a country that is attempting to reconcile its relationship with First Nations people, while simultaneously pushing unwanted pipelines through their lands and over their water supplies. People are taking a stand and saying no to this reckless behaviour. It’s time for all of us to do our part, to stop Kinder Morgan and the Canadian government from putting BC at risk.