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City, province take issue with Kinder Morgan

Kinder Morgan wants to submit its emergency plan for its pipeline and facilities, which it is seeking permission to expand, to the National Energy Board confidentially. Both the province and Burnaby city hall are opposing the request and want to see it made public. - Colleen Flanagan/NewsLeader file
Kinder Morgan wants to submit its emergency plan for its pipeline and facilities, which it is seeking permission to expand, to the National Energy Board confidentially. Both the province and Burnaby city hall are opposing the request and want to see it made public.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/NewsLeader file

Hell hasn't frozen over and there haven't been any reports of flying pigs, but the seemingly improbable has happened—the City of Burnaby and provincial government agree on something.

The NDP-affiliated Burnaby council and BC Liberal government have both written to the National Energy Board (NEB) stating the same position. Both oppose Kinder Morgan's request to file in secret its emergency plan for its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The company filed a notice of motion earlier this month seeking NEB permission to file its emergency management program (EMP) confidentially.

In it, the company claims the documents "contain proprietary technical information" about its emergency procedures. They also include names and contact information for company and industry employees who could be affected by resulting privacy and security issues.

There is a "real and substantial risk" that if the information in the plan is made public it will compromise security of the pipeline, its facilities and systems, or those methods used to protect them, Kinder Morgan said.

It is, however, willing to provide the information to local, provincial or federal authorities. But first they must meet a set of conditions, including that they sign a confidentiality agreement.

In its response, the provincial government said the company has not shown that it holds any such proprietary information and if it did, it would be "quite unusual." It noted that concerns about personal information could be solved by redacting it from the documents.

As for any risks, the province said it's unclear what they could be since the right-of-way is marked with signs and all related facilities are above ground and clearly identified. Detailed information of the expansion project has already been made public so the company's claim it would lead to an increased security risk "seems implausible."

Public interest in the information is "high and undeniable," the province said.

Throughout the company's application for the project it touts the merits of its emergency management program, it noted.

"The Province takes the position that Trans Mountain cannot have it both ways—It cannot rely on the EMP to assuage the concerns of the Board, Intervenors and the public with respect to the effects of a spill, all the while avoiding public scrutiny by refusing to disclose the EMP documents on the public record."

The City of Burnaby agrees. In its own response it added that, "In effect, Trans Mountain is asking first responders to go blindly into emergency situations without the benefit of a prior knowledge.

"In short, Trans Mountain is requesting to keep confidential the very information necessary to save lives, protect property, and safeguard the environment," Burnaby said. "Clearly this arrangement is not in the public interest."

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said in a press release, "We know that Kinder Morgan does not have the capacity to deal with potential spills and fires and we are determined to ensure that they are not permitted to hide from the public the inadequacy of their plans."

Kinder Morgan is proposing to almost triple capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby. It wants to increase exports of oil sands crude to overseas markets using tankers in Burrard Inlet.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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