Least safe location

Two other professional engineers share their views about Kinder Morgan TransMountain Expansion terminal being in the least safe location and offering safer alternatives.

Burrard Inlet Onuppere

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 coastlines in the world.  We have thriving sport and commercial fishing industries and our entire province benefits from worldwide recognition of BC as a pristine wilderness.

Supporting safe extraction and export of natural resources

However, we also understand that resource extraction and export are a large part of the Canadian economy, and that British Columbia is not an independent state supported by tourism and fishing dollars alone.  We know there are no simple answers in the debate between growing our economy and protecting the environment and that  careful compromises must be made.   However, these compromises must be based on rigorous scientific analysis of the facts.[hr]

Our Goals

Concerned Professional Engineers supports extraction and export of natural resources.  We also support protection of the environment, as stated in the first article in our professional code of ethics:

“Members and licensees shall… Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace.”

Our goal is to provide British Columbians and Canadians with the information that they need to come to their own conclusions about Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain Expansion and Northern Gateway.  We have our own opinions, as stated on this website, and we have laid out our reasoning in a way that we hope meets the last article in our professional code of ethics:

“Members and licensees shall… Extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and geoscience and protect the profession from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.”

View: Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC’s Code of Ethics

(above links to https://www.apeg.bc.ca/Resources/Governance-Documents/The-Act,-Bylaws-and-Other-Governance-Documents)

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion

Aerial vies of Robert's Bank

Aerial vies of Robert’s Bank

“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 open ocean.

Under the acronym CPE for Concerned Professional Engineers, they make it clear that they are not opposed to shipping Canada’s natural resources, but are concerned with how Kinder Morgan plans to ship dilbit, a product that has been arousing controversy, through the City of Vancouver’s Harbour.

If TMX plans to increase ship traffic from Burnaby are approved (increasing from one Afromax vessel per week to one Afromax Vessel per day), then many more tankers filled with dilbit will have to negotiate narrow spaces between bridges along the Burrard Inlet, particularly at the Second Narrows bridge where the gap is very narrow.

Members of CPE all have extensive experience working in the design, operation and maintenance of resource export terminals and in the handling of ships and navigation, and their beliefs are founded on their expertise.

“In our opinion,” says CPE spokesman Brian Gunn, “an analysis is needed to predict what would happen if a loaded Afromax vessel collided with the railway bridge or the highway bridge at the Second Narrows. We need to know what the expected damage to these bridges would be, and what would happen if one of these vessels loaded with an oil product were to hit the foundations of a bridge and release its cargo into the sea.”

CPE has considered the possibility of alternate options for shipping, and concluded that Roberts Banks may present a superior alternative which should be given a proper consideration. Not only could larger vessels be accommodated, but pipeline transportation could be available along the Roberts Bank Coal Traffic rail right-of-way.

Gunn explains: “At present, the margin for error is simply too high. Dilbit has never been sufficiently tested in a marine environment and poses a threat to Vancouver’s shores. The tankers pose a threat because they are loaded with dilbit and expected to negotiate narrow passages. Ultimately, we would like to see dilbit processed into light crude before it even leaves the Prairies, but at the very least, safer routes for the transportation of dilbit must be found.”

CPE were approved to file a Letter of Comment with the NEB (National Energy Board) and outline their concerns to them.  We submitted a Letter of Comment to the NEB in November, 2014, well before the deadline, to enable NEB to instruct Kinder Morgan to carry out the suggested risk analysis with respect to the Second Narrows and railway bridge  To the best of our knowledge, this was not done.  When an extension was announced we sent a revised version in July, 2015.  To see both letters, click here: National Energy Board Correspondance

Two other professional engineers share their views on the Trans Mountain Expansion:

Read Jack Gin’s  Letter of Comment to the National Energy Board and his evaluation of the project on their site.

Read Mike Priaro’s article –  Transmountain Expansion Fatally Flawed

To view the National Energy Board page click here


pacific gather

The Pacific Gatherer hit the Second Narrows bridge in 1930, and became wedged underneath. In this photo from the Vancouver Archives, the tug Lorne is standing by.

Paying for spills:  Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion and Northern Gateway’s responsibility for cleanup costs ends when the tankers leave the Burrard Inlet and Kitimat terminal.

If Trans Mountain or Northern Gateway is not responsible for a tanker spill on the coast, who is?  Current available cleanup funds cover a maximum of $1.35 billion.  Cleaning up a large spill and supporting businesses and communities that have lost their livelihoods for decades could easily exceed this amount.

Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway  have shielded themselves from this cost.  Tanker companies are registered in Panama and Liberia for a reason.  As a taxpayer, you will be responsible for cleanup and damage costs exceeding $1.35 billion.

If Transmountain and Northern Gateway are so confident their projects are safe, why don’t they assume full financial responsibility for a spill?

Environment Canada’s own scientists are not convinced that tar sands oil can be cleaned up

Read more – Can a Spill be Cleaned

Decades of experience cleaning up previous tanker spills has created a large working knowledge of how to handle conventional crude oil spills.  The diluted bitumen to be transported by Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway is not conventional crude.

Diluted bitumen is heavier, thicker and stickier than conventional crude, and there is very little  real-world experience of trying to clean it up in a marine spill.

Despite assurances from Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway, Environment Canada scientists are on record saying they don’t have enough information to conclude that it can be cleaned up effectively.  So how can Northern Gateway claim that the project is “safe”?

How can these project be considered safe if it’s not known whether a spill can be cleaned up? [hr]

Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway are not in the interest of Canadians

We spent two and a half years reviewing this project,. In the case of Northern Gateway we participated in the Joint Review Panel hearings, we studied the JRP’s report and its 209 conditions in detail, and we are not satisfied that this project is in the interest of Canadians.

We have spent the last year studying Trans Mountain and we are convinced that this project needs more studying for the interests of all Canadians to be considered.

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