Kinder Morgan has been denied its request to start construction on a tunnel through Burnaby Mountain, the National Energy Board announced Friday (December 22).
As part of its $7.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion project, Kinder Morgan wants to connect its Burnaby Terminal and Westridge Marine Terminal with a tunnel. The company has said it went with the tunnel option in order to avoid going through residential neighbourhoods.
In August, Trans Mountain asked the NEB to “prioritize” the tunnel and allow it to start construction on the tunnel’s entry and exit portal sites. To meet the pipeline’s in-service date of 2019, construction needs to start immediately, as the tunnel will take two years to build.
Kinder Morgan argued the portals are on Trans Mountain property; portal development will not cause any new or additional adverse impacts; construction of the tunnel is a “critical path item”; and even if adjustments are made to the tunnel’s route, the portal locations are unlikely to change.
The City of Burnaby opposed the request and asked the national energy regulator to deny it.
From the city’s perspective, granting the request would prejudice Burnaby in the detailed route hearings in January. (The hearings will give the board a chance to hear from “adversely affected” landowners, including the City of Burnaby.)
“The location of the portals have the effect of fixing the location of the approved route at the boundaries of Trans Mountain’s property, in the vicinity of these critical Burnaby lands. This is particularly concerning given the significant potential municipal regulatory and public interest issues with the proposed route adjacent to or in the vicinity of the portal lands, including crossings of critical municipal infrastructure and roadways,” according to Burnaby’s submission to the NEB.
“The board recognizes that its normal practice of preserving routing flexibility adjacent to an area where there is an accepted statement of opposition is a discretionary one. Burnaby has opposed the route, methods and timing of construction for the tunnel section, and is entitled to have the grounds of their opposition on these matters heard.”
Greg McDade, the City of Burnaby’s lawyer, called the ruling a “temporary delay.”
“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,” he told the 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.”
The hearings for the Burnaby section of the pipeline will be held Jan. 22 to 31 and March 12 to 22 at the Delta Burnaby Hotel, 4331 Dominion St.
Trans Mountain has not replied to the NOW’s request for comment