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Local 3338 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees represents over 1200 workers, mainly at SFU campuses. Our diverse membership is spread among 7 Bargaining Units, with 7 different employers.

“A constant state of anxiety”: Living and working next to the Kinder Morgan tank farm

Written by Dave Chokroun. Posted in News

Members of the SFU community continue to voice their concerns after Kinder Morgan’s plans to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Burnaby Mountain tank farm have met with approval from federal and provincial governments.

In a presentation to the local at the November 30 AGM, member Lauren Barke called on the university to honour its responsibilities to the community. “Will SFU be able to fulfill its legal and moral responsibilities to provide a safe environment and workplace for its faculty, students, and staff if the expansion goes ahead as planned?”

Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion was approved by the federal government on November 29 and by the province on January 11. The expansion will more than triple the capacity of the tank farm, which currently houses 13 tanks with a capacity of 1.7 million barrels of petrochemicals. Kinder Morgan plans to add 14 new tanks, raising capacity to 5.6 million barrels.

“Essentially, my whole life is on Burnaby Mountain. I live, work, and go to school here, as does my husband. Right now I feel like I’m living in a constant state of anxiety because my basic living environment is unsafe due to the tank farm,” Barke says. “Based on extensive evidence I have read, I’ve been active on this issue because I truly believe expanding the tank farm is unsafe – and will lead to a major catastrophe that will put entire communities, both on and off Burnaby Mountain, at extreme risk.”

Local president Fiona Brady Lenfesty shares the same concerns: “The local is extremely disappointed by government decisions to approve the Trans Mountain expansion. Many of our members travel to the Burnaby Mountain campus on a daily basis and we are very concerned about the profound environmental impact that increased tanker traffic will have on our work site, not to mention the significant health and safety risks that would arise should there be a spill. We stand in solidarity with environmentalists, First Nations, lower Mainland mayors and our campus community on this issue.”

According to a report by PGL Environmental Consulting released by SFU in November 2016, the expanded tank farm would place tanks approximately 150m from the intersection of Burnaby Mountain Parkway and Gagliardi Way and 700m from the campus. The report notes that Kinder Morgan has not provided adequate information for the university to develop an evacuation or emergency response plan in a “worst-case scenario.”

SFU administration has voiced serious concerns to Kinder Morgan and the National Energy Board since the Trans Mountain expansion was first proposed in 2014. In a November 28 statement accompanying the environmental report, President Andrew Petter stated that “any increase in risks to the health and safety of the SFU community resulting from this expansion is unacceptable to the University.”

Kinder Morgan plans to start construction on the Trans Mountain expansion in September 2017. The proposal has met with criticism and resistance from Burnaby and Vancouver councils, Burnaby Fire Department, community residents, academics, and activists. In November 2014, over 70 were arrested after protestors defied a BC Supreme Court injunction to leave campsites in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area where Trans Mountain employees were surveying. Five protestors – including SFU staff and faculty – were named by Kinder Morgan in a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit, later dropped by the company.

Upcoming events and information

On Friday, March 24, Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder-Morgan Expansion (B.R.O.K.E.) and environmental group 350Vancouver are organizing a rally and Toxic Tour of the tank farm. Event details are at: 
350vancouver.org/KMtankfarm/

SFU statement on the tank farm expansion and PGL report

Kinder Morgan and Public Health at stand.earth

Burnaby Fire Department analysis (May 2015)