Press Release June 26, 2014

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2014

Kinder Morgan Refusing Responsibility for Oil Spills in Burrard Inlet for the
Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project

The Squamish Nation has discovered that Kinder Morgan will not be accountable for the costs of oil spills from Project-related tankers in Burrard Inlet. The company will be passing those costs on to the owners of the tankers and will not be assuming any responsibility.

The Squamish Nation is an intervenor in the National Energy Board’s hearing for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project application. On May 12, 2014 intervenors were provided an opportunity to make information requests to Kinder Morgan and Kinder Morgan’s responses to the first round of information requests by intervenors were received by some of the intervenors on June 4, 2014.

The Squamish Nation discovered that in response to a request by the City of Port Moody that asked Kinder Morgan to identify “what costs to address short and long term consequences from a spill in Burrard Inlet would be covered under Trans Mountain’s insurance and what costs would not be covered under the insurance”, Kinder Morgan answered that “[t]he owners of tanker vessels are accountable for the damages they cause in the Burrard Inlet. Trans Mountain is not accountable costs incurred caused by tankers.”

“Kinder Morgan should not be able to take the financial benefits of the Project without committing to take responsibility for the costs of a tanker spill associated with the Project. The Squamish Nation, and the other residents of Burrard Inlet, should not have to bear those costs”, states Chief Ian Campbell, spokesperson for the Squamish Nation.

In addition, in response to a request by Port Metro Vancouver, Kinder Morgan refused to do additional spill modelling for a “worst case tanker-sourced spill within Burrard Inlet”, stating that “[n]o additional modeling or assessment is contemplated.” Kinder Morgan further confirmed that it “has not considered a credible worst case oil spill scenario in Segment 2 [Burrard Inlet] as realistic and relevant for the risk analysis study.”

“This is appalling. First we learn that Kinder Morgan does not have any financial liability for an oil spill in Burrard Inlet and then we learn that they do not want to do the work to understand what the actual risks will be. Obviously they have no interest to do so if they are not financially on the hook for such a spill”, says Chief Ian Campbell.

This is despite the fact that if approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project will be responsible for a substantial increase in the amount of tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet and, as a result, a substantial increase in oil spill risk. Kinder Morgan’s application states as a result of the expansion the number of tankers travelling through Burrard Inlet will increase from 5 tankers to 34 tankers per month. Kinder Morgan further acknowledged in response to an information request by intervenor Robyn Allan that, although unlikely, the number of tankers will increase to 44 tankers per month (528 per year) travelling through Burrard Inlet if smaller panamax class tankers were used instead of aframax class tankers for the Project.

In terms of regulating the increased number of tankers, the National Energy Board itself in a request to Kinder Morgan asked whether it would commit to the recommendations in its technical reports, including “contracting mechanisms to require the implementation of a maximum speed restriction for all Project-related vessels”. Kinder Morgan refused to commit to follow the recommendation to limit vessel speed noting that “Trans Mountain does not own or operate the vessels that call at the Westridge Marine Terminal”.

Chief Ian Campbell says: “This is extremely concerning for our people. Kinder Morgan is refusing to take any responsibility for the tanker oil spill risk associated with the Project. A tanker spill in Burrard Inlet has the potential to devastate Squamish traditional territory, including areas of cultural and spiritual significance, endanger the health and environment of our community and jeopardize our economic interests. Without the risks and associated costs of oil spills accounted for, this project should not be allowed to go forward.”

The review of the Project commenced on April 2, 2014 and, according to the NEB 15-month statutory timeline, will end on July 2, 2015. The only possibility of testing the evidence provided by Kinder Morgan in their application is through the two rounds of information requests, as the NEB has refused to allow cross-examination of Kinder Morgan’s experts. On June 18, 2014 a number of intervenors, including the Squamish Nation, received responses to their information requests to Kinder Morgan.  The Squamish Nation is currently assessing Kinder Morgan’s responses and considering its next steps in the NEB process.

For more information contact:

Squamish Nation Communications Department
604 -980-4553

Download the press release here

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