Re: Editorial “Time for Serious Emergency Planning?” in March 10th edition

At Kinder Morgan Canada, safety is our top priority and the cornerstone of everything we do. We’ve been operating responsibly for over 60 years and have a robust emergency response program in place that’s tested and practiced on a regular basis with local first responders, First Nations and government agencies to ensure we’re prepared in the event of an incident.

All Kinder Morgan Canada employees have the authority to issue the Trans Mountain pipeline shut down for safety reasons. We also evaluate reports from the public, other companies and first responders very seriously. If our Control Centre receives a report of a spill or a change in pressure that might indicate a spill, it would result in the immediate shut down of pumps, closure of valves, and dispatch of local field operations personnel to investigate the report.

The nearest Trans Mountain operations personnel are located in Valemount, with support in Blue River, Jasper and Clearwater. Our emergency response equipment, including boom, is spaced along the pipeline corridor and can be activated at a moment’s notice to any location along the pipeline.

Preparing to respond to an emergency is important and includes coordination and communication between multiple parties. For example, on March 10 we held the third in a series of Valemount workshops with local and regional emergency response personnel to share information, confirm emergency response roles and identify challenges for local first responders. The information gathered at this recent workshop will help Trans Mountain enhance its existing emergency management program, with a focus on local geographic features and capacities.

This summer we’ll be inviting Valemount and regional first responders to join the Trans Mountain emergency management team as we practice deploying our emergency response equipment in local waters.

Identifying potential risks has been an important part of developing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project – it allows us to design and build the proposed pipeline in a way that minimizes or eliminates risks. We’re incorporating engineering and design elements that will help prevent spills, and our integrity management program ensures that we take the necessary preventative measures to maintain the long-term physical condition of our pipelines with regular inspection, maintenance and repair.

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project recently completed the most comprehensive regulatory review process in the history of the National Energy Board. Over the past three years, we presented thousands of pages of scientific evidence, conducted the very best environmental and technical studies, completed detailed engineering and design work, and consulted with communities, stakeholders, landowners and Aboriginal groups along the proposed corridor.

The input gathered has created a stronger, safer and more responsive project. We’ve made a number of changes in the Valemount area as a result of the feedback we’ve received. For example, the proposed pipeline is being re-routed in the upper North Thompson area to avoid five crossings of the Thompson River. We’ve also adjusted the size of the line to avoid two crossings of the Fraser River and the need for a new pump station at Reargard. These changes will result in less power infrastructure and reduce the length of the pipeline by three kilometers.

We’re confident that we’ve demonstrated both the need for this Project and our commitment to building and operating this pipeline to the highest standards while providing lasting benefits for all Canadians, including Valemount, which will see higher tax payments, construction investment and workforce spending.

But, these benefits will not come at the expense of the environment or safety. The Trans Mountain team is committed to earning your trust and confidence and we know there’s still more work to do. We’ll continue to work with stakeholders, communities and Aboriginal groups to gather feedback and support collaborative efforts to enhance safety and protect our environment.

Michael Davies
Senior Director, Kinder Morgan Canada

Editor’s note:
We asked for clarification regarding how many personnel Kinder Morgan has in the Valemount area and how long it would take for safety equipment positioned in the area to reach the farthest point that equipment covers. Here is (in part) Kinder Morgan’s response:

“Pipeline operating conditions are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by personnel in the control centre. If a spill was reported, an operator would immediately activate a safe pipeline shutdown. A series of emergency procedures would be launched, including shutting down pump facilities and isolating the suspected spill area by closing valves.

We have two personnel located in Valemount and approximately 30 located in the region. Emergency response equipment is strategically stationed along the pipeline to ensure it can arrive on site within a maximum of two hours, although crews can respond more quickly to most points along the line. This response equipment includes 2000 feet of boom and an Oil Spill Containment and Recovery Unit, which contains the protective and recovery equipment required on a spill site, including the equipment required for winter spill response.

Trans Mountain can also call on a number of additional resources to help coordinate efforts to react quickly and effectively, including environmental consultants, spill response experts, emergency response consultants, response contractors, medical aid and wildlife rescue consultants.”

The location of the valves or the maximum amount of product that might leak from between closed valves has not yet been disclosed.