Report warns of 3 Trans Mountain 'hot spots' in Burnaby

Environmental group raising concerns about construction on first day of federal election

Within hours of the 2019 federal election officially kicking off, an environmental group pushed to put the Trans Mountain expansion project front and centre.

In a report released Wednesday, Stand.earth identified seven “troubling hot spots” along the pipeline’s proposed route, three of which are found in its terminus city, Burnaby: the Westridge marine terminal, Burnaby Mountain tank farm and a tunnel the company plans to bore through the mountain to connect the two. 

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Expanding the Westridge terminal would not only increase tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet seven-fold, it would obstruct a third of the waterway, the report stated. 

“This narrow corridor – along with the hundreds of other watercrafts in Burrard Inlet – significantly heighten the risk of a collision and, in turn, an oil spill,” states the report.

A tanker could also collide with the Second Narrows Bridge or the nearby Canadian National Railway bridge, according to Stand.earth, citing a report from the Concerned Professional Engineers

The planned doubling of tanks on Burnaby Mountain would increase the risk of a major fire that would be near impossible for firefighters to extinguish, forcing them to wait “days or weeks” for it to burn out, said Tzeporah Berman, Stand.earth’s international program director.

The City of Burnaby and Burnaby Fire Department have previously raised concerns about Trans Mountain’s emergency preparedness plans for such a fire. 

Trans Mountain, a Crown corporation since the project was purchased by the federal government in 2018, declined to determine conclusively whether there are fault lines in Burnaby Mountain, where it plans to bore a 2.6-kilometre tunnel. 

A 2013 report found no evidence of fault lines but did not rule out the possibility they exist and recommended further study, “a recommendation that the company denied,” says Stand.earth. 

In a statement, Trans Mountain did not directly address the specific issues raised by Stand.earth, but said it has addressed all issues associated with the expansion project.  

“After seven years of consultation, design, studies and planning, we are confident we have considered, addressed and effectively mitigated the concerns and risks raised in this report,” a spokesperson wrote. “The re-start of construction on the expansion project demonstrates that Canada can have a healthy, rigorous discussion about issues and also ensure a project that has followed every process and obtained the necessary approvals gets built.”

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