A First Nation with traditional territory in Burnaby is disappointed with the provincial government's plan to handle new oil pipelines in B.C.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which has already announced its opposition to Kinder Morgan's pipeline expansion plan, is also displeased with the government's five minimum requirements for oil pipeline construction and operation announced on Monday. According to the nation, the five requirements do not reduce the environmental risks or acknowledge the full extent of First Nations' legal rights in the process.
"As people of the inlet, it is our birthright and obligation to care for the lands and waters of our territory. Our rights and title give us a voice, and we will use our voice to ensure our rights are fully upheld," said Chief Justin George in a press release. "We remain resolute in our opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, and we will not be swayed by the provincial government's announcement."
Kinder Morgan operates the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has run oil products from Alberta to Burnaby since the 1950s, but the company wants to twin the line to more than double capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 750,000. The Wilderness Committee, an environmental group opposed to the plan, estimates the move could mean more than 300 tankers per year in the Burrard Inlet.
The provincial government's five pipeline project requirements call for a completed environmental review, "world-leading" marine and land-based oil-spill prevention and cleanup, a "fair share" of the economic benefits, and parameters to address aboriginal rights. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation took issue with the last point, stating that addressing these rights is not enough - they must be fully met.
"We expect informed, meaningful governmentto-government consultation on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal," George said. "No consultation has yet happened with Tsleil-Waututh."
The nation also found the government's requirement for "world-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems" troubling because they are still dealing with effects from Kinder Morgan's 2007 oil spill, where a line was ruptured by city-hired workers and more than 200,000 litres of oil leaked into the Burrard Inlet. Tsleil-Waututh means "people of the inlet," and they have traditionally relied on the natural environment for food. One of their sayings is: "When the tide went out, the table was set."
"Our community was deeply affected by the 2007 spill. Our inlet has been scarred by the impacts of oil spills," said Carleen Thomas, a councillor with the nation. "We have seen first-hand the inadequacies of emergency response and clean-up efforts.
"We are convinced that pipeline expansion is the wrong thing for the inlet, the Lower Mainland and the province. All of the risks are here and none of the benefits," she added. "And the risks are simply too great to accept."
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has roughly 500 members and is based in North Vancouver but has traditional territory around the Burrard Inlet. Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal (where tankers fill up with crude) and part of the existing pipeline are in the nation's traditional territory.