The existing route of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Chilliwack runs through Watson elementary’s schoolyard and residential backyards. The NEB approved the company’s request to put the expansion in the same right-of-way. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

NEB approves Trans Mountain pipeline route through Chilliwack residential area, school yard

City opposed realignment due to proximity to aquifer but NEB says decision ‘is in the public interest’

If and when the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project goes ahead, the twinned oil sands project will run along the same right-of-way in the same residential Chilliwack backyards as the existing pipeline.

The National Energy Board (NEB) announced its decision Thursday on the company’s application for realignment of 1.8 kilometres of the expanded pipeline into the existing right-of-way in Sardis.

The application was required because the NEB approved the pipeline project but approved a route in the BC Hydro right-of-way to the north of the existing pipeline, which runs through Watson elementary’s school yards and dozens of homes in the Roseberry/Montcalm area and near Canterbury Road.

• READ MORE: City of Chilliwack strongly opposed to oil pipeline near aquifer

The decision now goes to the federal government for approval, after which the detailed route approval will proceed in the fall. The decision comes after four days of oral hearings Jan. 15 to 18 in Chilliwack where the NEB panel heard from intervenors including the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance, the City of Chilliwack and the WaterWealth Project.

In the NEB hearing held in Chilliwack in January, the City of Chilliwack expressed its opposition to the rerouting option because it puts the new pipeline only closer to the city’s aquifer.

“The proposed route is much closer to city wells than the BC Hydro route and puts the pipeline in the capture zone of the city’s drinking water wells,” deputy director of engineering Rod Sanderson said at the hearing in January. “That means that any contaminants released from the pipeline could flow into the wells.”

Sanderson explained how city operations supply approximately 80,000 people with drinking water, a number expected to rise to 100,000 over the next 20 years.

“This is an extremely significant and vulnerable water source,” he said. “It’s also an excellent water source.”

Trans Mountain defends the re-route application arguing that both routes are outside the aquifer area anyway, and in the unlikely event of a leak, material would run to the north towards the Fraser River away from the aquifer.

In the end, the NEB sided with Trans Mountain and said the benefits and expected burdens of the realignment were weighed, and the realignment is “in the public interest and is consistent with the requirements of the NEB Act.”

Some of the expected burdens of putting the new pipeline in the existing right-of-way, according to the NEB, include: “one additional road crossing and 20 additional utility crossings; slightly higher probability that oil from a pipeline leak or spill that makes its way to the groundwater would then make its way to the City water wells; and construction would take place close to existing residential housing.”

The expected benefits of the realignment decided upon by the NEB, include most importantly the avoidance of the BC Hydro infrastructure, something BC Hydro said was critical. Other benefits include: a proposed fibre-optic leak detection system that could also detect ground disturbances for the existing pipeline given the proximity; the pipeline will be 500 metres shorter in length; and staying in the existing right-of-way “leverages the knowledge and experience of landowners already familiar with living in proximity to an existing pipeline.”

The NEB also noted that no residents along the realignment route expressed objections with the board.

See www.theprogress.com for more on this story including reaction from NEB hearing participants.

• READ MORE: Pipeline routing through Chilliwack subject of NEB hearing Monday

• READ MORE: Pipeline company questioned about Chilliwack aquifer protection at NEB hearing


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

NEB hearing Jan. 15 in Chilliwack into Kinder Morgan’s application to change approved routing for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The existing route of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Chilliwack runs through Watson elementary’s schoolyard and residential backyards. The NEB approved the company’s request to put the expansion in the same right-of-way. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Just Posted

Ex-cop now preaches importance of prison programs at Abbotsford prison

John Glena once advocated throwing away keys for offenders; now he works to improve their lives

Nowhere to grieve: Processing loss on Abbotsford’s streets

Homeless advocate Harvey Clause says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Mar. 21, 2019

Potential to crack one final temperature record today before dipping down into the mid-teens

Abbotsford Atom C2’s win local rec hockey tournament

Abbotsford C2’s go undefeated at Atom Rec event over the weekend

Abbotsford woman charged after police find loaded gun in bag at mall

Danielle Rigdon, now facing 11 charges this year, was on house arrest at the time

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Two men charged in Lower Mainland grocery store stabbing in 2018

Coquitlam RCMP say the incident is ‘believed to be targeted’

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Driver sought in Vancouver hit-and-run that sent two to hospital

A man and woman were crossing Fraser Street early Monday morning when they were hit

Most Read