Kinder Morgan Energy Partners may have downscaled projections for its proposed pipeline twinning, but the local group formed to oppose the project is ramping up.
The Fraser Valley activists met in Yarrow in May to form a group, PIPE UP (Pro-Information, Pro-Environment-Up with People) Network, to plan activities and let their concerns be heard.
The group includes residents from Hope to Abbotsford, said Michael Hale, spokesperson for the group.
Kinder Morgan's 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline runs through the Fraser Valley on its way from Edmonton to the Westridge terminal in Burnaby. It currently has a capacity of about 300,000 barrels per day.
It recently reduced volume projections for its proposed second pipeline from 850,000 bpd to 750,000 bpd as some shippers withdrew from their deals.
While the project still involves twinning the pipeline, risks to the area's water and farmland from a pipeline leak remain, said Hale.
He also said he was "completely shocked when I learned they are [already] piping tar sands bitumen through that pipe."
Spills of diluted bitumen are not uncommon, he said. He pointed to the pipeline leak of bitumen into Michigan's Kalamazoo River as a cautionary tale for Fraser Valley residents.
"After two years and $750 million, it's still not cleared up," said Hale, who lives at the Yarrow Ecovillage. The pipeline runs underneath farmland at the ecovillage.
"This bitumen may benefit China, but it passes through our B.C. communities; soil, aquifers, waterways, beside our schoolyards of our precious children; all the commons and, as many recent spills have shown us, into the very air we breathe," said retired Chilliwack school teacher Wendy Major, in a PIPE UP press release issued last week.
Eddie Gardner, a Skwah First Nation member, also commented on the risk of leaks.
"At the very least, Kinder Morgan must provide adequate liability insurance against the real costs of any clean up, big or small," he said.
Gardner, PIPE UP members and others held a protest June 2 over the federal government's omnibus budget bill in front of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl's constituency office. A similar protest was planned for June 12.
- PIPE UP Network will sponsor a number of events in the Fraser Valley. It has a website at www.pipe-up.net and a Facebook group at www.facebook.com/stoptheflow.