Sumas Mountain disaster plans part of pipeline conditions

National Energy Board releases a draft list of 145 conditions for approval of pipeline expansion project and upgrade to Sumas terminal.

Kinder Morgan Canada's Sumas Mountain pump station and terminal will add a seventh tank if the company's proposed pipeline expansion is approved.

By Tyler Olsen and Tom Fletcher

Black Press

A detailed response plan in case of a major disaster at Kinder Morgan Canada’s Sumas Mountain Pump Station and Terminal in Abbotsford is among 145 conditions for the approval of the company’s proposed pipeline expansion project.

Last week, the National Energy Board (NEB) released a draft list of conditions for approval of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project, including environmental protection plans for land and marine operations.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to twin the line to ramp up shipments of diluted bitumen from northern Alberta that began intermittently in the late 1980s. The $5.4 billion expansion project would nearly triple the line’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day. That would result in a seven-fold increase in oil tankers entering and leaving Vancouver harbour. The proposal would also see the construction of an additional tank to the Sumas Pump Station and Terminal, bringing the total there to seven. Capacity at the terminal would increase from 715,000 to 890,000 barrels.

Among the NEB’s draft conditions is a requirement for the company to complete updated risk assessment for the three terminals, including details on the potential consequences of a “boil-over,” “flash fires and vapour cloud explosions,” or a domino effect that would result from the release of the contents of one tank.

The company must also develop a “secondary containment system” and demonstrate its ability to contain multiple ruptured tanks during a once-in-100-years, 24-hour storm event.

The company must also file an independent report on proposed fire protection and firefighting systems at its Sumas Mountain, Burnaby and Edmonton terminals, along with information on emergency preparedness and training programs at its terminals. It must also create an evacuation plan for people potentially affected by an incident on Sumas Mountain or its other facilities.

Before beginning construction at its Sumas Mountain, Burnaby and Edmonton terminals, the company must also file for approval of an air emissions management plan. That plan must include timing for installation of air-monitoring stations, along with descriptions of the complaints process and consultations with landowners or First Nations who may be affected.

The draft conditions would also require the company to include “conclusions” about possible seismic activity during the last 11,000 years for several known faults, including the Sumas fault and Vedder mountain fault, which run parallel on either side of the Sumas Prairie.

Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said last week the company will be seeking clarification on the timing of some of the conditions, and will file its comments to the NEB review panel Aug. 20. Most major conditions, including plans for watercourse crossings along the route, are to be filed at least 90 days before construction begins.

Conditions also include submitting records of landowner consultation on the route, and a plan for aboriginal participation in monitoring construction.

“Our initial review of the draft conditions is that they are rigorous but achievable,” Anderson said.

NEB hearings are to resume Aug. 24, where the B.C. government is expected to formalize its position, based on Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for new heavy oil pipelines. They include a “world-class” spill response capability on land and sea, approval and benefit sharing by affected First Nations, and a still-undefined “fair share” of benefits for the province.

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