Locating pipeline on reserve may increase oversight, Matsqui say

Kinder Morgan says it will respect wishes of local First Nation.

A revised pipeline corridor for Kinder Morgan's expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline would take it around the Matsqui First Nation reserve.

An expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline would be routed around Matsqui First Nation lands if requested, Kinder Morgan Canada wrote in filings to the National Energy Board (NEB) last week.

The company plans to twin its current pipeline, which runs through a corner of Matsqui land, to increase shipments of diluted bitumen from northern Alberta. The $5.4-billion expansion project would nearly triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day.

But while Kinder Morgan said it won’t build its expanded pipeline across Matsqui First Nation land unless given consent, a submission by the nation suggests they would rather see the pipeline built on their land, rather than right next to it.

The company has already created plans that would skirt the southwest corner of the reserve, which sits between Harris Road and the Fraser River just west of Glenmore road. An alternate route has also been drawn up that would cross the reserve.

An impact assessment commissioned by the band and submitted to the NEB in May noted that the pipeline ran through 38 kilometres of traditional Matsqui territory in addition to the current reserve.

“Matsqui is concerned about how this project, and related activities, might impact their members and their community, and infringe their aboriginal title and rights to their land and water,” said the assessment’s authors, EcoPlan International.

That review looked at the potential impacts of a spill, either on the reserve or further up the Fraser River, on the First Nation’s 260 members, around half of whom live on the reserve. It found that a spill would have a dramatic economic, cultural and psychological effect on Matsqui members.

But the report also suggested that locating the spill off the reserve, rather than alongside the current pipeline, wouldn’t mitigate those adverse impacts.

Moving the pipeline off the reserve, the report suggested, “would increase the potential for adverse effects to all Matsqui values, as it would remove the TMEP from additional oversight, regulations and monitoring that would be required with an on-reserve pipeline.”

Kinder Morgan, in its response said that “even if the pipeline is routed off of [the reserve], the project would be regulated by the NEB.”

The company also took issues with several aspects of the impact assessment, suggesting that spill scenarios considered by EcoPlan were less likely than presented and, if such an incident did happen, there are plans in place to mitigate the damage.

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