Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) recently had an opportunity to present their concerns regarding Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) to a Ministerial Panel in Burnaby on August 11. (Click here for the full report)
The panel was formed by the government in order to give special groups and the public an opportunity to express their opinion on the Trans Mountain Expansion. The panel travelled to designated locations in British Columbia
Primary in CPE’s agenda is the intention to educate both the public and government about the risk inherent in projects of this type. CPE is a composed of professional engineers who have extensive experience in the planning, risk analysis, detailed design and construction of marine and materials handling systems. The group is not opposed to exporting oil from Canada, but is opposed to the way Kinder Morgan plans to handle the marine aspect of their expansion.
In their presentation to the panel, CPE spokesperson Brian Gunn explained that while they recognize that Kinder Morgan hired a reputable consultant DNV (Det Norske Veritas) to conduct a risk analysis of their proposal, this analysis not been subjected to an independent peer review. He said they also feel that the analysis is incomplete and has not taken into account the possibility of collision with bridges in the Burrard Inlet. The proponent, Kinder Morgan, 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.
Currently, one Aframax tanker travels from Kinder Morgan’s terminal in the Eastern Burrard Inlet, through the Vancouver harbour and to the open ocean one day per week. If the expansion is approved, tankers will travel the inlet 34 times per month.
Gunn says that this raises concerns about the amount of risk that increased traffic will generate. First and foremost is the danger of Aframax tankers colliding with the Second Narrows Railway Bridge. This bridge was shut down for four and a half months in 1979 after being hit by the Japan Erica, a ship much smaller than a loaded Aframax tanker. 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 which is just 110 metres distance away. The highway (Ironworkers Memorial) bridge is a well travelled main artery in Vancouver and a collapse of this bridge would be catastrophic. (See pictures below)
In conjunction with this, the tankers carry diluted bitumen (dilbit), a material that has not been thoroughly tested in a marine environment. Should there be an incident, the tanker would likely lose its cargo and such a spill would without a doubt cause environmental damage in a highly populated area. DNV estimates that if there would be a spill, then the tankers would lose 8.25 million litres of oil product. This is 3,000 times greater than the amount spilled in 2015 by the Marathassa in English Bay. Such a spill would also be very expensive to clean up and it is tax payers who would bear the cost.
CPE proposes that there are safer alternatives to shipping through the Burrard Inlet, and that other ports such as Roberts Bank that is situated at the open ocean, have not been considered. The organization is working on bringing this to the attention of those in government who will be making the final decision. For more information on CPE visit their website at www.concernedengineers.org.