By Michael Hale. Less than a week ago, a 65 year old pipeline in Little Rock, Arkansas broke, spilling more than 300,000 litres of heavy oil from the Canadian tar sands, into local neighbourhoods. CNN described the product as a “smelly, asphalt-like crude” and Exxon Mobil revealed that the pipeline had been transporting Wabasca diluted bitumen which is similar to the product that is transported by Kinder Morgan on their Trans Mountain pipeline that cuts through many neighbourhoods and near schools in the lower mainland. Photos from the spill showcase the consequences within the small town and provide insight into the risks associated with transporting the product.
“We extend our sympathies to the community of Little Rock, especially the people evacuated from their homes,” said Lynn Perrin of PIPE UP Network, a group of residents concerned about the risks of transporting diluted bitumen. “The photos from this spill highlight the risks of transporting bitumen and the tragedy that ensues when a break happens,” added Perrin. “Over twenty schools are within 200 metres of the Trans Mountain pipeline between Hope and Burnaby and it crosses the Sardis-Vedder and Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifers. We cannot afford to sit and wait for our neighbourhoods to become another sacrifice zone for the profits of big oil.”
In Chilliwack, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline passes through built up neighbourhoods in Sardis, near Vedder Junior and Watson Elementary Schools, and crosses the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer and the Vedder River, a tributary of the Fraser.
In Abbotsford the pipeline crosses the Sumas River, the Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer, runs near Auguston and Abbotsford Christian Elementary Schools, through the built-up Sandy Hill area and through Matsqui, close to the Fraser River.
In Langley Township, the pipeline runs just south of Fort Langley, through the Nathan Creek, North Creek, Salmon River and Yorkson watersheds, through built-up areas of Walnut Grove and near Walnut Grove Secondary and Gordon Greenwood Elementary schools.
“Pipeline breaks are not an anomaly; they are part of business as usual in the pipeline business,” explains Michael Hale, spokesperson for the PIPE UP Network. “Within the past 5 years we have seen hundreds of thousands of litres of oil spill from the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline in four major spills. Yet Kinder Morgan wants to continue pumping tarsands heavy crude through an aging pipeline, and build a new pipeline to increase the transport and the risks through our home towns.” Hale continues, “We do not have to endure the same mistakes of our neighbours to the south. We need to be shifting away from our dependence on fossil fuels, a first step is stopping Kinder Morgan from transporting tar sands and trying to expand their infrastructure with a new pipeline.”
Photo by Brigette Wiliams, American Red Cross
About the Pipe Up Network:
The PIPE UP Network is made up of residents of Southwestern BC who have come together because of our concerns about the safety, environmental, and financial implications, of shipping tar sands along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Edmonton, AB to Vancouver, BC. Kinder Morgan is in the process of building a new pipeline within the existing right of way, to expand the transport of tar sands crude for export by way of tankers off the Burrard Inlet.
Members of the network are dedicated to educating themselves and their communities about the existing pipeline, plans for expansion, and alternatives to tar sands; showing that we have the power to make the needed changes