March 1, 2016
In their op-ed of January 21st, 2016, Messrs. D’Avignon and Finlayson, respectively the CEO and Executive VP of the Business Council of British Columbia, state that it is time for a mature conversation on oil exports against the backdrop of current economic realities.
As a group of retired Professional Engineers who have spent the past four years participating in the reviews of the Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway projects, we agree with their statement.
The authors rightly point out that the world demand for energy continues to grow and that the majority of this growth will be driven by India and China. They also state that Canada does an excellent job regulating its oil and gas industry, and that if we don’t help to fill this growing demand, countries with less stringent standards will step forward and take our place.
They ask: How does the world benefit if Canada says ‘No’? It is a fair question, and one that deserves debate.
However, that’s where the mature conversation ends. Rather than addressing legitimate and sensible concerns put forth by opponents, many of whom like CPE, support development of Canada’s energy sector and economy, they resort to tired rhetoric about these projects being held ransom by a campaign of ‘misinformation’.
Perhaps their argument is that since BC already has many thousands of kilometres of pipelines and sees hundreds of oil tankers per year, the measures that are in place are ‘good enough’. This ignores the basic reality that the Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway projects alone, without the projected boom of BC’s LNG industry, represent an enormous expansion of the oil and gas industry along Canada’s west coast. Canadians are justified in their demand for a comprehensive review of these developments.
Regarding ‘misinformation’, we would like to ask the authors if they are aware that:
- The risk analyses upon which these projects were approved contain serious and fundamental flaws. For example, the ratio of time tankers spend in enclosed channels vs. open water is, according to the proponents, simply an assumption. Yet for engineers, this knowledge is critical in estimating the frequency of major tanker spills. This may seem like a trivial detail, but it is not. In complex engineering projects tiny errors carry tremendous consequences. Every new engineer learns the archetypal example: the Challenger space shuttle exploded because a simple rubber seal failed.
- Disregarding the above flaws, and accepting the risk analyses at face value, the proponents acknowledge that their projects each carry a 10% probability of a major spill within a 50 year operating life. This is a spill of approximately 2,000 times the size of the spill from the Marathassa in English Bay that occurred in the summer of 2015. Do the authors feel that 10% is an acceptable level of risk? We don’t.
- The Canadian government’s own scientists have repeatedly cast doubt that the product being transported, diluted bitumen, can be cleaned up in the event of a major marine spill. ‘Dilbit’ is not conventional crude oil and experience accumulated over decades of cleanup of crude oil do not directly apply to this product.
- The funding structure in place to pay for spill cleanup is woefully inadequate and Canadian taxpayers will ultimately foot the bill.
- Safer port locations exist and have been proposed numerous times. For example, locating the Northern Gateway terminal at Port Simpson would eliminate the need for supertankers to traverse more than 400 km of narrow, congested channels for each of the 11,000 trips they will make in the projected 50-year lifetime of the project. Similarly, Roberts Bank, near the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, is an established port with a clear shipping line to the open ocean. Instead, Kinder Morgan plans to send loaded tankers from a terminal and tanker facility located in a densely populated metropolitan region, Burnaby, through the Burrard Inlet. The tankers would have to pass under two busy highway bridges and a railway bridge, before reaching English Bay and finally, the open ocean. Why have alternate locations never been seriously considered? Is it because they would increase the cost of the pipelines?
The authors’ focus on ‘misinformation’ and ‘fantasy’ belies their intention to have a mature conversation about the development of our energy industry. Yes, there is a vocal and perhaps even fantastical movement that wishes to see all energy development in Canada halted overnight. Yes, a west coast port is required to ship Canada’s energy products to developing markets in Asia. We believe Canadians understand and accept this reality.
However, we also believe Canadians are rightly skeptical about how thoroughly these projects have been regulated, especially in light of recent disasters like the Mt. Polley mine dam breach, the Kalamazoo oil spill, and the Lac Megantic tragedy, where ‘world-class’ regulations very clearly failed to protect people and the environment.
We agree that it is time for a mature conversation about the reality of Canada’s oil industry. We challenge the authors to address the legitimate concerns presented by our group and many others, instead of simply dismissing opponents as being misinformed and fantastical.
Report from the Ministerial Panel for the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Project
November 1, 2016
CPE is mentioned in 2 places emphasizing the unacceptability of the risks of major collision spills and the possibility of collision of the tankers with the Second Narrows Railway and the Highway Bridges, and the fact that a proper risk analysis has not been done. This evidence is important as the Ministerial Panel was submitted by the federal government and it’s approval of the KM Project and its’ order in counsel on Dec 10, 2016.
On December 16, 2015 we sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Natural Resources, James Gordon and the Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to address our concerns about where dilbit should be shipped out of along the British Columbia … [Read more…]
Concerned Professional Engineers Brief to the TMX Ministerial Panel
August 11, 2016 Burnaby – Summary
Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) is a group of Professional Engineers with extensive experience in the planning, risk analysis, detailed design and construction of marine and materials handling systems. We are NOT opposed to exporting oil from Canada. We are opposed however, to the marine aspect of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX):
- The proposal for transporting diluted bitumen, from Kinder Morgan’s terminal in the Eastern Burrard Inlet to the open ocean, is based on a risk analysis produced by a reputable consultant DNV (Det Norske Veritas). We respectfully submit that this analysis is incomplete.
- The analysis, which has not been subjected to an independent peer review, ignores the danger of Aframax tankers colliding with the Second Narrows Railway Bridge, which was shut down for four and a half months in 1979 after being hit by the Japan Erica. A loaded Aframax tanker would be five times heavier and could take the bridge right off its foundations, carrying its superstructure into the highway bridge 110 metres distance away, risking catastrophic collapse.
- The proponent has an obligation to study the compliance of these bridges with the current Canadian Highway Bridge Code S6, which has a specific chapter on addressing vessel collisions. Of major importance to this assessment is vessel traffic, especially when tanker traffic is planned to increase significantly.
- The major economic consequences to the region, should a tanker collide with a bridge, as well as environmental damage from a possible spill have not been taken into account.
- DNV states that a spill of 8.25 million litres (3,000 times greater than the 2015 English Bay Marathassa spill) has a return period of 473 years. CPE equates this period to a 10 percent chance of such a spill in the 50 year operating life of the project. This risk level is similar to that of a major earthquake hitting Southern BC during the next 50 years. This risk is not ignored in the case of earthquakes and, similarly, must not be dismissed for tanker spills. Engineers are tasked with designing both buildings and bridges to withstand a certain amount of force and must design to specific codes. Today’s buildings have to be designed to withstand earthquake demands allowing for only a two percent chance that those demands will be exceeded in a 50 year period and, for important bridges like the new Port Mann, the S6 Highways Bridge Code requires the calculation of vessel collision forces allowing for only 0.5 percent exceedance in 50 years.
- We believe that there are safer locations for an oil terminal that would not involve travel through highly populated areas.
The responsibility borne by the Panel is heavy, and it is important for panel members to understand what risks are inherent in this type of project, and to report back in an informed manner to the people who are going to make the final decision.
Two other professional engineers share their views about Kinder Morgan TransMountain Expansion terminal being in the least safe location and offering safer alternatives. Protecting our environment – an important natural resource Like all British Columbians and Canadians we value the supernatural beauty of this province and the fact that it represents one of the last wild … [Read more…]
Press Release “Why not Roberts Bank?” Concerned Professional Engineers question Kinder Morgan TMX route proposals in Vancouver A group of registered professional engineers in British Columbia are questioning the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) project that proposes shipping dilbit (diluted bitumen) through a potentially hazardous route passing through the City of Vancouver before it reaches the … [Read more…]
What is Dilbit? DILBIT: BITUMEN AND CONDENSATE HAZARDS The Northern Gateway project, if implemented, will be sending the product Dilbit through a pipeline to be built between Alberta and a terminal at Kitimat, BC, for export to Asia via oil tankers. Similarly, the Trans Mountain pipeline will be transporting Dilbit between Alberta and … [Read more…]
Click here to read Letter from NEB denying CPE official intervenor status for Trans Mountain Pipeline Project [hr] Read CPE response to denial below: Friday, April 11, 2014 To Whom It May Concern: As spokesperson for CPE (Concerned Professional Engineers) I would like to appeal the decision of the NEB to decide against including our group as Intervenors. Our … [Read more…]