Kinder Morgan has opted to bypass developed neighbourhoods of north Surrey where its existing oil pipeline runs in favour of a new route for its proposed twin – along the Fraser River next to the new South Fraser Perimeter Road.
While the route choice allows Trans Mountain pipeline planners to dodge possible conflict with hundreds of homeowners who live near the current line, it’s likely to mean sharper focus on the environmental risk of a rupture that could send heavy crude oil into the river.
The completed $5.4-billion pipeline twinning, if approved, would carry 890,000 barrels of oil per day – triple the current capacity – with most of the increase consisting of diluted bitumen for export via tankers through Burrard Inlet.
While the new pipeline to Burnaby’s Westridge Terminal would closely follow its 60-year-old predecessor through most of the Fraser Valley, it breaks with the past at about 224 Street in Langley, cutting north just after Fort Langley beside the meandering Salmon River to reach the CN Rail line.
The detour would allow construction crews to avoid the Walnut Grove neighbourhood that has sprung up since the original pipeline was built.
From there, the new route runs west along the rail line and the South Fraser Perimeter Road through Surrey to a new tunneled crossing of the Fraser River downstream of the Port Mann Bridge.
Along the way it would tread along the edge of newly created Surrey Bend Regional Park and past industrial properties in Port Kells. But just two residential properties in Surrey are on the new route, compared to more than 200 on the existing right-of-way.
“A lot has changed in the last 60 years,” said Greg Toth, senior project director for the Trans Mountain expansion project. “Following the existing pipeline is not practical.”
So much has changed that even the old Port Mann Bridge and the section of Highway 1 approaching it in Surrey did not exist when when the original line was built from northern Alberta in 1952.
Toth won’t say what route is proposed north of the Fraser – that’s to be revealed next Thursday.
But the Surrey map suggests it won’t go through residential yards in Coquitlam, either.
Instead of running through Coquitlam’s Wildwood Mobile Home park and then to the north, as the existing pipe does, the preferred new route would run from Cape Horn west along the CP Rail line, with two alternate routes toward Burnaby identified as the Highway 1 and Lougheed Highway corridors.
“Burnaby is similar,” Toth said. “We’re looking at co-aligning with highways, railways, other linear disturbance to enable the routing.”
The company has identified two possible routes across the Fraser between the Port Mann and Pattullo Bridges.
In the event of an earthquake, Toth said models suggest both banks of the river will “flow towards the middle.”
Asked what safeguards the company proposes against an oil spill into the river from a pipeline perched on the bank, Toth said thicker pipe is an option near the river as well as more closely spaced valves that allow an emergency shutdown of the pipeline.
“We will optimize the locations of the valves to minimize the potential spill volume.”
He said the company has multiple methods to monitor and maintain the pipeline and has emergency responders based in Burnaby, trained for both land and water spills.
The study corridor ranges from 30 to 150 metres wide, depending on the location.
The company would by mid-2015 identify a smaller band within it for the actual 18-metre pipeline right-of-way.
During contruction, crews would use a work zone up to 75 metres wide on one side of the pipeline or the other, although Toth expected crews can work in a narrower space in urban areas.
The original Surrey right-of-way runs near the north side of Highway 1 and then west from 152 Street 1 along 108 Avenue before heading northwest through Bolivar Heights.
Surrey would collect more property tax from Kinder Morgan – about $1 million a year intead of $500,000.
Kinder Morgan is seeking community input on the proposed corridors. Maps and other details are available at talk.transmountain.com.
The B.C. government says the Kinder Morgan pipeline must meet all the same conditions for new heavy oil pipelines as for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
The existing pipeline was shut down for two days this month after the discovery of a minor leak on a section near Merritt.
PHOTO ABOVE: Trans Mountain senior project director Greg Toth