Second Narrows Bridges

The Globe & Mail, Weigh Anchor, Justine Hunter’s article on the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain Expansion Project

May, 30, 2017

Let Us Introduce Ourselves

The Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) are a small group of professional engineers living in British Columbia, Canada.  Together we have many decades of experience in the design, construction and operation of large projects for the extraction and transportation of natural resources like coal and oil.

We share a deep concern for the environment and the future of this coast, this country and this planet.  With our backgrounds we are keenly aware of the inherent conflict between environmental protection and resource development.

We understand that we cannot end our dependence on resources tomorrow, and that it is important to propose practical, achievable solutions to these problems that strike an acceptable balance between economic development and risk to the environment.  We are not opposed to the development and export of natural resources, but we feel very strongly that these projects must be done in as safe and responsible manner as possible, with a full accounting of the risks and visibility to the public.

Our focus is that we want the public to know about the high risk decisions that were made by the federal government in approving the Kinder Morgan’s Trans-mountain Expansion Project.  This project will increase the tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet from 5 to 34 vessels per month.  This increase has not had a proper risk assessment on two counts;

  • A risk analysis on collision with the existing bridges has not been done.
  • The 10% risk of a major spill of 8.25 million liters in 50 years has not been properly analyzed;
    • The government has given no explanation as to why they’ve accepted this risk.
    • There is no evidence that this assessment has been peer reviewed and compared with other acceptable risks.

We want to spread awareness on what risk is and what risks are associated with this project.

The key is to reduce risk to acceptable levels.  The basis on which the federal government approved the expansion is 5 times the risk we accept for earthquakes and 20 times riskier that what we accept for new bridge construction.

The concerns we have were brought to the federal government and the National Energy Board (NEB), but were ignored.  We have tried to make a legal appeal to the courts, but have been turned down because we don’t have the status on an intervenor (denied to us by NEB).  

Our Plan and How You Can Help!

CPE is looking to raise $10,000 to assist in continuing efforts to press the federal government in reassessing the risks associated with the Kinder Morgan Expansion.  We will use these donations to support the CPE team and focus on the following;

  • We wish to assist organizations who have brought an action to oppose the expansion in the Federal Appeal Court.
  • We wish to continue our dialogue with the owners of the Railway Bridge (CN) and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge (Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of BC).  The bridge owners are, at the present time, carrying out a risk analysis of collision with their bridges resulting from the increased tanker traffic.
  • We are working with the owners of the bridges to ensure that they are implementing proper risk analysis for the increased tanker traffic.  This would ensure that if the risks are too high (above those deemed acceptable for other projects), that the bridge owners are doing what needs to be done to mitigate the higher risks.
  • CPE is writing up a work plan for the engineers assigned to the task of deciding the safety of the Second Narrows Bridges, and will take the work plan to the owners’ engineers responsible for the bridges.
  • CPE feels the only way to ensure that this job is done properly is to see that the bridge owners carry out a proper risk analysis and be open and transparent about it.
  • We will continue to be in contact and work with organizations concerned with the safety of the project by sharing our engineering expertise.
  • We need your help to spread the message of the actions we are taking to raise public awareness and share through social media.

The Impact, Risks, & Challenges

Evidence shows that changing the port location is the best way to minimize risk to both people and to the environment. Unfortunately, cost and time for approvals have gotten in the way of making the safest location decision. The federal Department of Fisheries and the Minister of Environment (in 1987) rated the Eastern Burrard Inlet as the riskiest (unsafest) location from which to ship petroleum products.  Roberts Bank (Deltaport) is many times safer than the Eastern Burrard Inlet. We also think that our federal government should make the effort to provide a terminal and export route that are as safe as possible.  The studies that were done in 1987 showed the safest port location to be Port Simpson, where sailing time from the port to the open ocean is only a half an hour (30 km N of Prince Rupert).

It is essential that the public understand the risks associated with the current decision, how to minimize these risks, and that the information needs to be passed on and enforced by the government to do a proper risk assessment before approving this or other similar projects.

The purpose of this campaign is to get this message out to the public, to support the intervenors who have status (who are able to legally challenge the federal government’s decision), and to support the continuing costs in dialoguing with the owners of the bridges to fulfill their responsibility to provide the maximum protection possible for their bridges.

In conclusion, with your donations, CPE plans;

  • to assist those who are publicly campaigning against this decision,
  • provide them with public arguments on the high risks, and work to educate the public that if there were an incident with the bridges and spilled oil, the public will end up paying the price to clean up the spill.
  • create a work plan to submit to the Second Narrows Bridge owners, to use as a standard for a safe risk assessment, and what steps should occur to assure safety should a tanker hit one or both bridges in an accident.
  • continue to circulate information and educate the public on the safety concerns for the environment that this expansion will imply.

Other Ways You Can Help

  • Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help:
  • Please pass this campaign onto your friends, colleagues, and family to spread the word and help create a Safer BC.
  • Shareables;