LETTER: Opportunity to speak up on proposed pipeline

The government of Canada’s ministerial panel on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal is holding a public meeting in Abbotsford on July 26.

The government of Canada’s ministerial panel on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal is holding a public meeting in Abbotsford on July 26.

On that same date, residents of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties in Michigan will be remembering their harrowing experiences from when a similar pipeline ruptured, making residents ill and throwing their lives into chaos.

On July 26, 2010, they awoke to discover that a pipeline had ruptured, spilling between three and four million litres of diluted bitumen into their communities and the Kalamazoo River.

Can you imagine the fear and confusion of waking up in the morning to find the fresh Fraser Valley air suddenly full of toxic fumes? Or the desperation as you, your children, your parents, friends, neighbours and pets develop headaches and begin to cough and feel nauseous, dizzy and fatigued?

How about your anger, grief and worry upon learning that you have to evacuate your homes because the fumes to which you and your family have been exposed include cancer-causing benzene?

Maybe you would join hundreds of volunteers in a largely futile effort to remove toxic bitumen from the Fraser River or clean it off of hundreds of contaminated birds and animals?

Some Abbotsford residents have already lived through similar experiences with the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline. In 2005, local residents were directly affected when roughly 210,000 litres of crude oil leaked into the pipeline right-of-way and Kilgard Creek. Clean-up workers were unnecessarily put at risk of carcinogenic benzene exposure because Kinder Morgan was slow to notify that the spilled crude oil contained it. Ten years later the riparian area has not been remediated.

In 2012, a 110,000-litre spill at Kinder Morgan’s Sumas terminal created concern for local residents and particularly for students at Auguston Traditional School, who were kept inside the school for the day.

We don’t ever want the people of the Fraser Valley to suffer through a much larger disaster of the type residents of Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties have had to deal with.

Unfortunately, the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline would put Fraser Valley residents, the salmon-rich Fraser River and the local economy at increased and unnecessary risk of something very similar.

You have an opportunity to raise these and other concerns at the public meetings. The Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal has not been approved and can be stopped. The sparse and fleeting benefits it might bring to Fraser Valley residents are far outweighed by the risks.

Please take action now to defend your community and environment.

The Abbotsford meeting takes place in Hall A at Tradex. The exact schedule for the meetings in Fraser Valley and other B.C. communities can be found at http://mpmo.gc.ca/measures/272

Michelle Borland Smith, former resident of Calhoun County, Michigan and Lynn Perrin, Pipe Up Network, Abbotsford

 

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