Editor: The government of Canada’s ministerial panel on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal is holding public meetings in Langley on July 27 and 28.
They begin the day after residents of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties in Michigan will be remembering their harrowing experiences from when a similar pipeline ruptured, contaminating their communities, making residents ill and throwing their lives into chaos.
On July 26, 2010, residents of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties in Michigan awoke to discover that a pipeline had ruptured, spilling between three and four million litres of diluted bitumen into their communities and the Kalamazoo River.
Can you imagine the fear and confusion of waking up in the morning to find the fresh Fraser Valley air suddenly full of toxic fumes? Or the desperation as you, your children, your parents, friends, neighbours and pets develop headaches and begin to cough and feel nauseated, dizzy and fatigued?
How about your anger, grief and worry upon learning that you have to evacuate your homes because the fumes to which you and your family have been exposed include cancer-causing benzene? Maybe you would join hundreds of volunteers in a largely futile effort to remove toxic bitumen from the Fraser River or clean it off of hundreds of contaminated birds and animals?
Some of our Fraser Valley neighbours have already lived through similar experiences with the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline. In 2005, local residents were evacuated when roughly 210,000 litres of crude oil leaked into the pipeline right of way and Kilgard Creek in Abbotsford.
In 2012, a 100,000-litre spill at Kinder Morgan’s Sumas terminal created concern for local residents and particularly for students at Auguston Traditional School, who were kept inside the school for the day.
We are a former resident of Calhoun County, Mich. (who experienced the spill there) and a resident of Aldergrove.
We don’t ever want the people of the Fraser Valley to suffer through a much larger disaster of the type residents of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties have had to deal with.
Unfortunately, the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline would put Fraser Valley residents, the salmon-rich Fraser River and the local economy at increased and unnecessary risk of something very similar. You have an opportunity to raise these and other concerns at the public meetings. The Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal has not been approved and can be stopped. The sparse and fleeting benefits it might bring to Fraser Valley residents are far outweighed by the risks.
Please take action now to defend your community and environment. The Langley meeting takes place in Cascade Ballroom at the Coast Hotel and Conference Center.
The exact schedule for the meetings in Fraser Valley and other BC communities can be found at mpmo.gc.ca/measures/272
Thank you for showing up.
Michelle Barlond Smith, former resident of Calhoun County, Mich.
and Susan Davidson,
PIPE UP Network, Aldergrove