By December 26, 2017 Read More →

NEB denies Trans Mountain request to immediately begin building Burnaby Mountain tunnel portals

Trans Mountain

Kinder Morgan Canada still faces opposition from environmentalists, aboriginals, local governments and the government of British Columbia. Burnaby Mountain Updates photo via Facebook.

NEB cites desire to finish detail route hearings in March before ruling on tunnel portal construction

The National Energy Board has denied an early start to construction of the entry and exit portals of the underground tunnel through Burnaby Mountain that is part of the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline project, the federal regulator announced Friday.

The City of Burnaby acknowledges that the decision is likely only a temporary delay.

trans mountain

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan is a vocal Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline opponent.

Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC, a subsidiary of Texas pipeline giant Kinder Morgan, requested in Oct. that it be allowed to start construction early, at its own risk, in order to optimize the production schedule of the $7.4 billion project. Construction has already been delayed nine months – until fall of 2018 – while the company sorts out permitting and approval issues with the BC government and some municipalities.

Detailed route hearings are scheduled for Jan. and March. Trans Mountain argued that “there is very limited flexibility or anticipated change with respect to where the Portals are located” and the outcome of the hearings would have little impact on the portal locations.

Burnaby’s lawyers responded that “Trans Mountain is required to obtain Preliminary Plan Approval for developments at Westridge and Burnaby terminal sites, including with respect to the development of tunnel portals,” and that approval has not yet been granted by the City.

On Dec. 7 the NEB bypassed municipal permits for clearing brush and other preliminary construction by granting permission for Trans Mountain to begin work. The federal agency has the legal authority to issue permits if it concludes a municipality or the British Columbia government is unreasonably withholding approvals.

The NEB’s decision was unpopular with project opponents, including Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who claimed the decision was an “abuse of federal powers” and that “City staff have been reviewing Kinder Morgan’s construction applications in good faith.”

Reaction to its early decision appears to have weighed upon the NEB’s decision, which took into account “outstanding regulatory approvals still needed that are pre-requisites to commencing the proposed work.”

The Board also noted that the hearings would begin in less than a  month and, given Burnaby’s opposition and numerous public interest issues, “was not persuaded to depart from its normal practice on preserving routing flexibility in this instance.”

“Kinder Morgan has been saying since 2013 we have to start construction, we have to start construction, and the schedule is constantly being delayed for reasons that are internal to Kinder Morgan. I think their credibility is kind of shot on those issues,” Burnaby lawer Greg McDade told the Burnaby NOW.

“I think that’s at the heart of the NEB’s ruling, they simply didn’t accept Trans Mountain’s statement about urgency; they’ve cried wolf one too many times. I think the NEB had to ensure there was any credibility with those (detailed route) hearings.”

Posted in: Canada

1 Comment on "NEB denies Trans Mountain request to immediately begin building Burnaby Mountain tunnel portals"

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  1. Earl Richards says:

    Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal has to be phased-out, because it is too close to residential areas. Dump KM, to save beautiful Burnaby.