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CURRENT FINDINGS IN BC: National Energy Board Accepts Trans-Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project

June 23, 2016

By Lee Britton

Oil spills in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea have become a public concern as oil and gas exportation has increased in recent years and is projected to continue to do so in the future. Supporting such growth projections is the National Energy Board’s (NEB) recommended approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) on May 20th, 2016. TMEP will almost triple the volume of diluted bitumen being transported through an existing pipeline corridor, increasing capacity from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day being moved from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia.

The NEB’s recommended project approval was based upon 157 conditions which ranged from alterations to the engineering of the pipeline, to public engagement. The NEB stated that oil spill behaviour research should continue to occur although contrary to several Intervenor recommendations including Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), this research was not made a condition of the project. As the body of knowledge pertaining to diluted bitumen’s fate and behaviour is comparatively small to other hydrocarbon products, many are disappointed that the NEB did not require a commitment of continued diluted bitumen research, which is something that would result in better preparedness in the event of a spill.