“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 have been approved to file a Letter of Comment with the NEB (National Energy Board) and have outlined their concerns to them. To find out more about CPE and about the Trans Mountain Expansion project, visit their website at www.concernedengineers.org.