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City submits final evidence to NEB on risks and costs of pipeline

May 27 2015

Oil tanker in Burrard Inlet © Elise DeCola
Photograph by Elisa DeCola

Today, the City of Vancouver submitted its final evidence to the National Energy Board (NEB) in response to Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion. The submission includes 12 reports from external experts, many commissioned with support from partners and intervenors, and explores three key themes:

  1. The economic viability of pipeline expansion within a climate constrained world
  2. Risk of an oil spill from the expanded pipeline and increase in tankers
  3. Impacts of an oil spill on Vancouver

Major spill could result in health issues

The reports are further validated by an air quality analysis carried out by Metro Vancouver which found that a major oil spill in Vancouver harbour could result in significant air quality and health issues with up to 1 million people being exposed to unsafe acute levels of Benzene and up to 31,000 people being exposed to levels that would result in mild transient health impacts.

Risks and costs outweigh benefits

With the insight gathered from the reports, City staff concluded that, despite what Kinder Morgan asserts, the risks and costs of the pipeline proposal outweigh any benefits that Vancouver may experience. This conclusion was based on the following findings:

  • Kinder Morgan’s assessment has fundamental flaws that systematically underestimate the risks to Vancouver
  • The existing pipeline has a history of spills and was approved with no environmental assessment
  • There are significant gaps in preparedness for a major spill
    • City staff are working to improve systems but many of the issues are outside of our jurisdiction
  • A major oil spill would be a disaster for Vancouver’s environment, economy, health and reputation
    • Even a less than “worse case” spill would be disastrous 

Impact on our reputation

The Burrard Inlet and Fraser River estuary are some of the world’s most important ecosystems and are among the defining factors identified in a study that valued Vancouver’s brand at $31 billion due to its reputation as a “green, clean and sustainable” city. Consequently, Vancouver’s brand is more likely to be negatively affected by an oil spill than comparable cities and could impair the brand value by up to $3 billion which would require significant investment to help rebuild.

Process flawed

The NEB process has been flawed in many ways with no opportunities for oral cross-examination and inadequate information sharing throughout. The City and other intervenors, had only two opportunities to question Kinder Morgan’s evidence and of the 1,252 questions submitted by the City, at least 40 per cent of the responses given by Kinder Morgan were deemed by the City to be unsatisfactory. Fortunately, the City’s work in partnership with other jurisdictions and with the input of the expertise of  global experts in the relevant areas has allowed us to prepare a rigorous, evidence-based final submission to the NEB.

Public input wanted

The City continues to collect people’s questions and concerns about the proposal, helping to inform the City’s process and ensure that all voices are heard.

You are encouraged to:

  • Join the conversation on Twitter at #TalkTankers
  • Fill out our online survey – nearly 5,000 residents have done so to date. Over 80% of respondents oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal.

On May 15, Metro Vancouver staff provided their assessment to the GVRD Board. The Board voted in favour of staff’s recommendations, including expressing opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion project.

View expert reports and staff presentation to Council

Expert reports will be uploaded throughout the day.

Read the expert reports

View City staff’s presentation to Council

Read the full report

NEB evidence library

View the evidence we are submitting to the National Energy Board on the potential affects and risks of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.