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LETTER: More concerns raised about Trans-Mountain pipeline

- Reuters

For some weeks the media has focused on election news, but this is exactly the time when information can slip through without enough oversight.

For example, the Trans-Mountain Pipeline (TMX) which is endangering Burrard Inlet, Burnaby, the city and residents of those parts, as well as Vancouver in British Columbia.

There are physical similarities between Burrard Inlet and Halifax Harbour with its contiguous bay. Over a hundred years ago a munitions ship collided with another vessel and the resulting explosion killed hundreds and caused decades-long damage to the environment and buildings. With an increased population, Canada now faces far greater hazards from explosive materials including the storage and transportation of fossil fuels.

Our federal government has been dilatory in notifying us that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline “faces bigger construction challenges” than have been publicly reported. On Sept. 12, the international environmental organization Stand.earth detailed a number of TMX construction “hotspots” including: a 30 per cent visual obstruction of tanker traffic, leading to possible collisions with huge ships carrying explosive fuels; the possibility of fire from any number of causes, including sabotage, of a tank farm which would impede the escape of 30,000 Simon Fraser University students, professors and staff; the concerns of geologists that a tunnel under Burnaby Mountain may cross fault lines leading to a collapse of the tunnel onto traffic using it; the Port Mann water supply tunnel could endanger the water supply and salmon fishery of the Fraser River; and “man camps” housing construction workers have had serious social consequences to neighbouring communities, especially for Indigenous people.

Stand.earth’s report also details “serious permitting delays for the project.”

The public is aware that Alberta views the pipeline as absolutely necessary and British Columbia, through whose lands it would cross, begs to differ. The federal government needs to consider not only the present, where both provinces’ points of view are valid, but the future.

Such projects are poisoning the planet which once benefited from fossil fuels. What rationale can be offered that continuing to use oil and gas as fuel makes any sense?

The supposed completion of the project is projected to be in mid-2022, according to TMX’s top corporate officer, who fails to mention a further six-month delay. New route hearings will be necessary because the National Energy Board has revoked all previous route approvals; failure of TMX and government to respond to the concerns of the city of Chilliwack and Coldwater First Nation that their drinking water will be polluted; as well as delays caused by the need to approve almost 1,900 provincial permits, 658 still under review and 243 not yet applied for!

Finally, the Parliamentary Budget Office says the project is “dangerously close to becoming financially unviable.”

Are government departments speaking to each other?

I have no confidence in corporations which collectively have taken the planet on a hazardous and possibly terminal journey to extinction.

To whom will we be able to sell the fossil fuels carried by the Trans-Mountain Pipeline? By the time it is completed, costing many billions of dollars, oil and gas will not only be spurned but will have to be left in the ground.

Perhaps at some future date it can be used for purposes as yet unenvisioned, but environmentally safe. We should be focussing on developing a network of talent in diagnosing and solving the problems facing us in the future and give up chasing outdated ventures and remedies. Greed of business and governments has gobbled up our resources without wisdom or forethought.

However, when a 16-year-old Swedish girl can rap the knuckles of American politicians, and they applaud, a few days after she spoke to the United Nations, perhaps it is not too late.

Judy Gibson,
St. John’s


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