Fire brigade condemns controversial Kinder-Morgan crude oil pipeline project in central Vancouver, BC
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Video: (CBC) The expanded crude oil pipeline through the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta will triple its carrying capacity, which many fear will lead to catastrophic spills, explosions and toxic crude oil fires without the possibility to efficiently evacuate locals in central Vancouver.
CANADA: A new "Standing Rock" type of conflict is developing in Vancouver, BC, as residents, indigenous groups and local fire services, oppose a controversial pipeline for crude oil being expanded through heavily populated areas of the city. On the weekend, 28 arrests were allegedly made during the escalating protest rallies.
The fire department in the City in Burnaby already in 2015 wrote a damning report of the consequences of likely spills and crude oil fires in the area, which they fear could go on for days. The pipeline currently cuts off large areas of the population from being efficiently evacuated, including the Simon Fraser University with thousands of students potentially at risk.
The pipeline also allegedly runs underneath several other schools in the area, creating cause for concern about safety in many different areas.
Burnaby is one one of the largest municipalities within the Greater Vancouver Region, with a population of over 200 000, and thousands more commuting into the city for work and school. In total, the Vancouver region has around three million people.
"Based on the findings of the analysis, the Burnaby Mountain Terminal is not the appropriate location for the expansion of the Burnaby Mountain Terminal as it poses significant constraints from an emergency/fire response
perspective, including but not limited to safety of firefighters and effectiveness to combat fire; containment and extinguishment of fire/spill/release; evacuation of employees within the Burnaby Mountain Terminal facility; evacuation of adjacent neighbourhoods, as well as broader areas impacted by release of sulfur based gases and toxic smoke plumes; and, protection of adjacent properties, including conservation lands", wrote deputy fire chief Chris Bowcock in the report. (Download the original report below) in this article.
Preparing for legal action - resulting in a price war on fuel
The conflict between the two provinces of Alberta and British Columbia has led to a price war on gasoline: as the oil producing province of Alberta seeks to retaliate against British Columbia for opposing the expansion of the pipeline, Alberta is now threatening to cut off the supply of oil and gas to it´s neighbor province, causing the price of fuel to skyrocket near northern European levels.
As the City of Vancouver and the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Coldwater First Nations (native Indian tribes in the area) prepare to take legal opposition to the project, members of The Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) are voicing their concerns about the health impacts of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) project.
Medical doctors are worried that in the event of a spill (the likelyhood of a spill is estimated to a 40% chance) that Canadians would be exposed to benzene, a carcinogen with no known safe exposure level, as well as other chemicals which are carcinogens and/or cause cardiovascular, respiratory, or neurological effects, and/or reproductive and developmental effects.
Even without a spill, vulnerable populations, such as the children who live in the vicinity of the TMX are a cause for concern. A report from South-Eastern Texas looking at the relationship between ambient concentrations of benzene and butadiene and the incidence of cancer in children found elevated rates of leukemia around the areas with the highest levels of these chemicals in the air.
Both children and adults who lived near some of the best studied spills, who were greatly impacted as far as livelihoods or contact with the oil spill, had increased risk of anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, lasting from 1.5 to 8 years; Indigenous people and women were more likely to experience depression.
Pipeline runs through native Indian land
Large parts of the pipeline runs through land owned by native Indian tribes, and they feel the federal government has violated their rights when agreeing to the project by going over their heads to allow it. For over a year, protesters have supported the native Indian claims to stop the project due to environmental reasons.
Protesters feel Kinder-Morgan does not have a reassuring enough safety record, and fear the increase of boat traffic, and the amount of crude oil being pumped through the pipeline, will increase risks well beyond acceptable levels.
Up until recently, protests have been tolerated, but this past weekend, the first arrests were made, when allegedly 28 protesters were arrested and removed from the grounds by local RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
A new "Standing Rock"? - Both Yes and No
The escalating situation is now starting to feel more and more similar to the Dakota Pipeline Access Protests. However Vancouver´s cause is experiencing a major difference in that rather than protesters fighting the cause alone, two national territories are nowat economic and political war with each other over this, and British Columbia is also officially opposing a federal decision by the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau (Liberal) in the matter.
With the province of British Columbia being run by a left wing government, (NDP, New Democratic Party) eager to prove their commitment to the environment since their 2017 election, the outcome for protesters in Vancouver could likely be very different than for those at Standing Rock.
By Bjorn Ulfsson / CTIF NEWS