By: Korie Marshall
The National Energy Board wants more information on Kinder Morgan’s planned route through Burnaby Mountain for the Trans Mountain expansion. The board has extended its timeline for a decision on the project.
“We are currently reviewing implications of the delay on the overall project and overall construction timetable,” said Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada in a media conference on Friday. He says they are not yet able to provide an estimate of the impact, given the complexity of the project, the work planning for winter and summer seasons, and environmental windows they need to adhere to.
A release from NEB says that in early June, Trans Mountain indicated to NEB their preferred route to the Westridge Marine Terminal would run through Burnaby Mountain. Trans Mountain also said additional studies were needed on the feasibility of the four kilometer change to its preferred route, which wouldn’t be completed until December 2014.
Anderson says the company is disappointed in the almost seven month delay, but says it decided to switch the preferred route in May 2014, largely in response to community feedback. Its preferred option is now to either tunnel or drill through Burnaby Mountain, to avoid having to construct the pipeline through a neighbourhood between the Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal. Trans Mountain is considering two options, either a directional drill or a tunnel.
“My preference would be a tunnel,” said Anderson . “It would provide the opportunity to move the existing line as well.” He says it would be the more expensive option, but will be the preferred choice if it proves feasible. He says their previously preferred route directly impacted four residential homes in the neighbourhood. The company will be assessing it in the coming months, but Anderson says they currently believe it is feasible.
Trans Mountain submitted its project application to the board in December 2013. The NEB has 15 months to review the project, but it can extend that period by the amount of time it takes for the proponent to respond to requests for further information.
The NEB says it’s assessment of the rest of the application will continue as originally scheduled, but the oral argument portion of the hearing will be rescheduled. A revised hearing schedule is available on the board’s website (filing A61778).
Once the studies on the route through Burnaby Mountain are filed, the board and the nearly 400 registered intervenors will have time to review and submit information requests to Trans Mountain, says the release from NEB. Trans Mountain will be required to respond by February 3, 2015. The change pushes the deadline for a recommendation from the NEB to the federal government to January 25, 2016, after the next federal election.
“We stand by our commitment to listen and respond to input from individuals and communities,” said Anderson in a release. He says the additional time gives more opportunity for people to review the proposal and ensures they can explore the new route they are proposing.
During the news conference, Anderson also noted the volume of questions from intervenors and responses the company has provided so far during the project review process. He says many of the issues are of local sensitivity and importance, and the company has been in communication with all affected municipalities and First Nations except Burnaby. He says the city has terminated communication with the company, and “we have not had the opportunity to work through some of those local issues and concerns as we have had elsewhere.”
The Village of Valemount is a joint intervenor with the Regional District of Fraser-fort George, and has requested further information and more adequate responses to at least 10 questions in the first round of the review.
The project would expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system from Edmonton to the marine terminal in Burnaby. It includes approximately 990 km of new pipeline, new and modified pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 km of existing pipeline. The application can be found on the NEB website at www.neb-one.gc.ca/TransMountainExpansion.