News Local

More tankers will bring more risk

By Laila Yuile, City Hall


This week's topic: Is an increase in tanker traffic reason enough to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline?

As we head into what promises to be a hot summer, Vancouver beaches and harbour side parks will once again be packed with tourists and residents enjoying the spectacular scenery that makes Vancouver famous.

On any given day, part of that scenery includes tankers and freighters from around the world waiting to enter Burrard Inlet to offload cargo or pick it up.

If the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project gets approval however, the number of tankers that are part of the scenery will increase significantly.

Many critics argue that means the chance of a spill will increase too.

Oil tankers currently fill up with petroleum products at Burnaby's Westridge Terminal approximately five times a month, but if the full capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project is realized, that number could rise to as many as 34 tankers moving in and out of Burrard Inlet every month — a total of nearly 400 a year.

A harbour full of tankers, filled with crude oil from Alberta is probably not the 'Spectacular by Nature' Vision Vancouver wants the world to remember, but may indeed be part of the images tourists take home.

Read Brent Stafford's reply here.

While Burrard Inlet is indeed a working harbour vital to industry and international trade, the Kinder Morgan proposal is up against significant opposition for many reasons, one of which is increased tanker traffic.

Kinder Morgan and industry experts have touted the safety of modern, double-hulled tankers in addition to the safety procedures, regulations and safeguards tankers must adhere to in order to enter and exit the harbour.

That doesn't console environmentalists or residents, and even recreational boaters are concerned about the impact increased tanker traffic will have in Burrard Inlet.

Try as one might, no one can account for the potential of human error. Burrard Inlet is home to a diverse ecosystem, and B.C.'s coastal waters are a resource unto themselves.

If there is anything we have learned from Exxon Valdez, it's that it simply isn't worth the risk.  


Who wins this week's Duel?

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