The expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline through Langley should not be allowed to proceed, a Township spokesperson told a three-member federal panel.
“This cannot be approved,” said Maegen Giltrow, legal counsel for the Township.
Giltrow was presenting a nine-page written submission on behalf of the Township to Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Ministerial Panel members Tony Penikett, Kim Baird and Annette Trimbee at the Langley City hearings last month. The document was provided to the Times this week.
Giltrow said the proposed twinning of the existing pipeline operated by the Kinder Morgan company would leave municipalities vulnerable to “considerable risk” from pipeline failures and emergencies, threaten well water quality and create a “substantial financial burden upon local taxpayers.”
“These issues remain outstanding,” Giltrow told the TMX panel.
The Township estimates the expansion of the 17-kilometre line through Langley will mean $12.8 million in added costs to taxpayers over the next 50 years as the municipality spends extra to build infrastructure around the line such as water lines, sewers, storm drains, roads, sidewalks, bike lanes and ditches.
“This is an issue of fundamental importance,” Giltrow said, arguing it amounts to “local communities unnecessarily subsidizing and bearing the risk and burden of this pipeline.
The written submission said that based on previous incidents involving pipeline leaks, the Township has “significant concerns that Trans Mountain is not adequately prepared to respond to pipeline-related emergencies, and that local communities are at risk.”
It went on to say that the NEB isn’t doing enough to protect the quality of well water in the community, which would be vulnerable to leaks and spills from the pipeline.
The regulator is requiring an “inventory” of wells near the pipeline, whereas a water well monitoring and mitigation plan should be required, the Township document said.
“Rather than merely maintaining an inventory of water sources, Trans Mountain should be required to monitor water sources, to ensure no contamination from pipeline leaks, and to provide for prompt notification and response in the event of contamination.”
Giltrow told the hearing that alternatives to the proposed route were not discussed and whether it was the best route was never considered.
“That question was not asked or answered,” Giltrow said.
“The Township of Langley never had an opportunity to make any comments or provide any analysis to the board on this fundamental question.”
She said the NEB has left it up to the pipeline company to decide how to respond to the concerns.
“It should not be left to the company to self-regulate,” Giltrow said.
“The regulator hasn’t done its job.”
The second pipeline would travel from the area of Telegraph Trail north to 217A Street and run through or around Redwoods Golf Course and through the industrial part of north-west Langley toward Port Kells.
The three-member TMX panel was assigned to hold hearings in Calgary, Edmonton, Jasper, Kamloops, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Burnaby, Vancouver and Victoria.
It’s report on the hearings will be filed with the federal government in November.
The federal government’s final decision on the Trans Mountain project is expected on or before Dec. 19, 2016.
(Full Township submission below)