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Pipeline to Delta idea won't go away

Mike Harcourt is latest to suggest alternative needed to Kinder Morgan's Burnaby proposal
Kinder Morgan
Kinder Morgan is looking to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline.

The idea of rerouting the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion through Delta refuses to go away.

More fuel was added to that fire this week when former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt told the media that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should consider a "Plan B" to the $5.4-billion Kinder Morgan proposal. He said an alternate route has to be considered, either to Deltaport at Roberts Bank or to the Cherry Point refinery in Washington state.

Concerned Professional Engineers, an independent group of retired and some still practicing professional engineers, added its voice to the debate by issuing a press release warning of the dangers of increasing tanker traffic sevenfold to the current loading facility in Burnaby.

The group noted for the past several months it looked at the increased possibility of tankers colliding with bridges.

"All it would take is one steering malfunction and the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows crossing could be destroyed, severing the Trans Canada Highway and endangering thousands of lives," the group stated.

It is the same group that filed its opinion with the National Energy Board that Roberts Bank is better suited as a shipping point for Alberta diluted bitumen.

Last year, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suggested Kinder Morgan's highly contentious pipeline twinning plan, which has drawn heated opposition from Burnaby and Vancouver as well as environmental groups, might need to be re-routed. She pointed out South Delta as one possibility.

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington wasted no time this week responding to the latest suggestion the pipeline should run through Delta.

"Re-routing Kinder Morgan's pipeline to the mouth of the Fraser River is a clear non-starter. The Fraser River delta is critical ecological habitat for millions of threatened shorebirds and salmon, and a bitumen spill on Delta's foreshore would be a disaster with monumental environmental, social and economic consequences. I am firmly opposed to any such suggestion and the people of Delta will not stand for it," she said.

"Mr. Harcourt is the latest in a line of political figures who do not understand the sensitive habitat at Roberts Bank, which is part of the great Fraser estuary. Last year, Premier Notley weighed in with the same misguided suggestion."

Huntington noted Kinder Morgan's own documents state Delta and other terminus alternatives "would result in significantly greater cost, larger footprint and additional environmental effects."

Mayor Lois Jackson said she'd rather not respond to the latest Kinder Morgan speculation and will wait to see if something more concrete comes of it.

Delta has submitted a number of comments on the proposal, primarily related to concerns regarding response to a tanker or pipeline spill that could potentially impact Delta's marine and estuarine areas, but has not formally voiced opposition to the project in its current form.

Saying Roberts Bank isn't on the books as a fall back, the company has stated it evaluated a number of potential marine locations on the West Coast, including Roberts Bank, and its evaluation determined those locations were less favourable due to a number of factors, including environmental, technical and economic considerations.

If approved, Kinder Morgan would nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby.