Portions of a fire safety audit of the Trans Mountain pipeline were rejected by Canada’s pipeline regulator

An aerial view of the Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., from May 2018.

VANCOUVER—As dark smoke billowed from a major fire at a petroleum storage facility in California on Tuesday, a newly released audit had some questioning whether the fire-safety measures in place along the Trans Mountain pipeline are enough to prevent a similar scene from playing out in Canada.

Canada’s pipeline regulator released a 2016 audit by the consultancy PLC Fire Safety Solutions last week — almost three years after it was completed. It found that three Trans Mountain petroleum storage facilities had failed in some cases to meet “industry best practices.”

The report “was shocking,” said NDP candidate Svend Robinson, who is running in the riding of Burnaby North-Seymour. He was the one who requested the audit be released to the public through access to information laws in June.

A fire broke out at NuStar Energy LP facility in Crockett, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. The Contra Costa Health Department posted on Twitter that there was a "hazardous materials emergency" in the towns of Crockett, and Rodeo. The department urged residents to stay inside and close all windows and doors. In B.C. environmentalists say the incident in California underscores the risks of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Now, having read the report, he said it has “raised very serious concerns about safety and security at the existing tank farm.”

PLC was contracted by the National Energy Board, now known as the Canada Energy Regulator, to assess the fire protection systems at three storage facilities for oil and other petroleum products: the Westridge Marine Terminal, the Burnaby Terminal, and the Edmonton Terminal.

The PLC audit concluded that all three locations were generally compliant with the “applicable regulations, codes and standards.” But in some cases, PLC found that Trans Mountain’s fire protection systems failed to meet “industry best practices.”

The regulator took issue with PLC assessing the sites based on industry-best practices. It rejected portions of the findings in part because PLC did not limit its assessment to regulatory requirements, which can be different than best practices.

According to Robinson, holding Trans Mountain accountable to the regulatory requirements, but not best practices shows “contempt for the community”

“Doesn’t this company — which is now owned by tax payers — don’t they have an obligation to make sure that they meet the best practices to ensure safety of people in the community? Of course they do,” he said of the company, which became a Crown corporation in 2018, when the federal government purchased it from Kinder Morgan.

In a statement Tuesday, Trans Mountain said its “facilities are designed and operated to industry best practices and meet the most stringent safety standards.”

The company, which is regularly audited by the Canada Energy Regulator, said it “addressed the potential deficiencies identified by the PLC report and no new areas of non-compliance have been identified.”

But in late 2016, PLC had determined there were “design features or components” of the fire suppression systems — including aspects of the fire pumps, foam systems, and fire detection systems — that did not meet fire protection standards at the Burnaby and Westridge Marine terminals.

At the time, Trans Mountain’s Emergency Management Program stated that in the event of a fire at the tank farm, it would have eight emergency responders on site within six hours.

Since then, the Canada Energy Regulator has directed Trans Mountain to get its response time down to four hours, but the PLC report indicates that best practice is a response time of 30 minutes.

“That makes sense,” said Robinson. “If you’ve got a major fire in a tank farm, why would you wait four hours? MORE


First Nations in B.C. launch new legal appeal against Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation announced at a press conference in Vancouver that they have officially launched their appeal of the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

VANCOUVER—Several First Nations led by Tsleil-Waututh have again launched an appeal against the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, alleging that Canada did not conduct a fair consultation with First Nations.

“The federal government’s approval of the pipeline is unlawful and must be quashed,” said Chief Leah George-Wilson of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation at a news conference in Vancouver. She was joined by representatives from five other nations that have filed for a judicial review.

In June, the federal government approved the expansion project for a second time. Last summer, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and others won a major court case that forced federal authorities to reconsider the environmental risks of the increased tanker traffic associated with the project and undertake further consultation with Indigenous communities.

George-Wilson said it “feels like déjà vu” to announce yet another application for appeal to get a fair consultation process.

“Two and a half years ago, we were here announcing our latest court challenge, which we won,” she said. “Canada had an opportunity to get it right and they did not. We have not seen any significant difference in the consultation process, and in some ways it was worse.”

The First Nations maintain that building the $9.3-billion pipeline expansion is a constitutional violation, “primarily around the failure to satisfy the duty to consult, accommodate and seek consent from First Nations, and regulatory legal errors by the National Energy Board.” SOURCE

Want to help stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers? We’re launching Pull Together, Round 3. But we can’t do it without you!

Yesterday, a joint legal challenge was filed by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation, Ts’elxweyeqw tribes, Shxw’owhamel Nation, Coldwater Indian Band and Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation.

These Indigenous Nations are challenging (again) the federal government approval (again) of the Trans Mountain tarsands pipeline and the 700% increase in tanker traffic it will bring to the coast.

We’ve been here before. And we can do it again.

Yesterday, we heard leaders of these Nations share how this federal decision was the result of another hasty and deeply flawed review process that failed to satisfy the duty to consult, accommodate and seek consent from Indigenous Nations.

Chief Leah George-Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh Nation said, “It was clear that Canada had already made up their mind as the owners of the project⁠—they repeated many of the same mistakes again.”

We heard how the project would involve the digging up of burial grounds and sacred sites in Shxw’owhamel and Stk’emlupsemcte Secwepemc territories. It puts the Coldwater Band’s drinking water at risk. These are just a few of the many harms this project will create on the ground.
So the Nations are going back to court. I’m humbled by their leadership and their commitment to defending their lands and waters.


Senate changes to environmental assessment bill are worse than Harper-era legislation: experts

©Garth Lenz --1618
Tailings for Imperial Metals’ Red Chris Mine perch above a B.C. lake. Proposed new rules for reviewing major projects like mines and pipelines have been majorly revised by the Senate. Photo: Garth Lenz / The Narwhal

Following intensive lobbying by the oil and gas industry, the unelected Canadian Senate has approved more than 180 controversial amendments to Bill C-69. Experts describe the amendments as incoherent, badly drafted and an attempt to dodge climate change considerations

Jason Kenney travelled to Ottawa only days after he was sworn in, telling members of the Senate’s energy committee that Bill C-69 was the “culmination of a full-frontal attack” on Alberta’s economic prosperity.

But the Senate’s surgery is so extreme, with many of its wide-ranging amendments mirroring requests from the oil and gas industry, some verbatim, that environmental law experts say Canada would be better off leaving the Harper-era environmental assessment legislation in place.

Following a report from an expert panel that travelled across the country, hearing from stakeholders in 21 cities, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna introduced Bill C-69 in February 2018, saying the new legislation would ensure “more timely and predictable project reviews” that would attract investment and development.

The 340-page bill replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. The bill also makes changes to the Navigable Waters Act and overhauls the beleaguered National Energy Board, replacing it with a Canadian Energy Regulator.

The new impact assessment agency would review all major projects in the country, assessing not just the environmental impacts but also the social, economic and health impacts, as well as the effects on Indigenous peoples.

The bill establishes timelines for assessments and requires that impacts on Indigenous rights and culture be considered early on in the planning process. MORE


Senate Playing With Fire on Environmental Bills

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

Below is an excerpt from the original Canadian Press article where each takeaway is accompanied by an analysis.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C. Photograph By JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Court of Appeal ruled Friday that the province did not have the authority to restrict shipments of diluted bitumen through its borders. Here are five takeaways from the decision and its impacts:

1. Provinces cannot bring in legislation that interferes with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

2. The court found B.C.’s legislation was aimed directly at the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

3. B.C. still wants to take its chances before the Supreme Court of Canada.

4. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and former premier, Rachel Notley, are celebrating the decision as a win for the province.

5. It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project.

[B.C. Attorney General David] Eby did not directly answer a question about what else his government would do to oppose the pipeline, as he maintained B.C.’s legislation was about protecting its environment and that the Supreme Court of Canada would have the final say. But Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, said there was plenty B.C. could do to halt or delay the project, including adding conditions to its provincial environmental certificate or ordering a public health and safety review of the project. SOURCE