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Trans Mountain tunnel work stalled, public NEB hearing begins

JOC News Service
Trans Mountain tunnel work stalled, public NEB hearing begins
TRANS MOUNTAIN — Crews work on a section of pipeline in Jasper National Park, a past project that was part of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. On Dec. 22, 2017, in another hurdle for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, the National Energy Board denied Kinder Morgan’s request to begin construction work on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel portion of the project.

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — An oral hearing being hosted by the National Energy Board (NEB) began on Jan. 15 to consider Trans Mountain Pipeline’s application to alter the proposed route of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project in the city of Chilliwack, B.C. The hearing is expected to run until Jan. 19.

Currently the approved corridor for the pipeline through Chilliwack follows a BC Hydro right of way between 500kV of overhead transmission lines, but Trans Mountain has proposed routing 1.8 kilometres of the new pipeline so it would be within the existing Trans Mountain right of way.

The panel will hear from intervenors including the City of Chilliwack, the citizen water advocacy group Water Wealth and the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance.

On Dec. 22, 2017 the NEB denied Kinder Morgan’s request to begin construction work on the Burnaby Mountain tunnel portion of the project. In a condition compliance report, the NEB stated Kinder Morgan had numerous errors in a pipeline environmental protect plan (EPP) submitted Oct. 4. The majority of these errors involved environmental alignment sheets (EAS) and resource-specific mitigation tables (RSMT).

“In some cases, the EASs and RSMTs do not agree with one-another. In other cases, the EASs or RSMTs do not agree with management plans previously submitted in compliance with other conditions, or with past responses to information requests from the board,” the report stated.

“Given the number of errors and inconsistencies identified, and the importance of the EASs and RSMTs in ensuring that mitigations are implemented as previously committed to, the board directs Trans Mountain to conduct a complete quality review of the EASs and RSMTs, and to then resubmit them for approval.”

The board approved the Oct. 4 EPP for the Line 2 Pipeline, Westridge Pipeline and Burnaby Mountain Tunnel, except for the EASs and RSMTs. The report stated “these directions must met by the company and approved by the board prior to the commencement of any construction, including clearing, at each applicable work area or phase.”

In May 2016, the NEB recommended the federal government approve the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, subject to 157 conditions. The government approved the project in November 2016.

Since then the $7.4-billion project has faced several challenges. In the fall of 2017, Kinder Morgan filed a motion with the NEB to allow construction to proceed on the project after failing to get necessary permits from the City of Burnaby, which the company claimed was delaying the approvals process. The city stated the process was taking so long because the permit and plan applications were extensive and complex.

In December, the NEB exempted Kinder Morgan from certain bylaws, meaning construction work can begin on the Trans Mountain expansion in Burnaby, but now there is the latest delay with tunnel construction.

The entire expansion project will parallel the 1,150-kilometre route of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, which was built in 1953 and is the only West Coast link for Western Canadian oil, states Kinder Morgan.

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