Citizens want more answers about pipeline

A town hall meeting was held in Abbotsford on Wednesday night to address concerns about Kinder Morgan's expansion proposal

The Kinder Morgan tank farm in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January 2012.

The Kinder Morgan tank farm in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January 2012.

A public meeting held Wednesday night in Abbotsford has solidified opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the need for more information.

John Vissers, an Abbotsford environmental activist who attended the session at University of the Fraser Valley, said there is one main theme that came out of the meeting.

“There’s a determination to find out more about Kinder Morgan heavy-crude shipments. We need to learn much more about diluted bitumen and how it’s affecting a 60-year-old infrastructure that was never designed to move that product,” he said.

Kinder Morgan is planning to twin the oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, increasing capacity from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels per day.

The system runs through Abbotsford, where there is a Sumas Mountain tank farm and terminal facilities.

The tank farm was the site of a 110,000-litre spill in January, resulting in residents of the nearby Auguston neighbourhood reporting a strong odour. Some suffered headaches and nausea.

Vissers, who lives on Sumas Mountain, said citizens attending the public meeting want answers about what precisely is being pumped through the pipeline.

“That (the spill) was more noxious than anything I’d ever seen. Whatever that stuff was, it was bad.”

The town hall meeting was held by a newly formed Fraser Valley citizens’ group called PIPE UP Network in partnership with the Wilderness Committee and Tanker Free BC.

The session was a chance for local residents to learn more about the proposal, address their concerns, and connect with other groups and citizens.

Vissers, a member of PIPE UP, said Kinder Morgan representatives were invited to attend, but they declined, saying it was too early in the process. The company is expected to file its expansion application with the National Energy Board in late 2013.

The next town hall meeting will be held  Wednesday, Aug. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tzeachten Hall, 45855 Promontory Rd. in Chilliwack. For more information, visit the website pipe-up.net.