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Province demands better answers from pipeline firm

Work on a previously twinned section of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Jasper National Park. - Kinder Morgan Canada
Work on a previously twinned section of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Jasper National Park.
— image credit: Kinder Morgan Canada

The province has filed a motion with the National Energy Board asking it to compel Kinder Morgan to provide "full and adequate" responses to questions about its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The demand is one of a series of similar requests of the NEB after Kinder Morgan responded to a series of first-round information requests by various intervenors in the project review.

The province submitted more than 70 requests related to maritime and land-based spill response, prevention and recovery systems.

But the government says Kinder Morgan's failure to provide sufficient information in the responses means B.C. can't fully understand the risks posed or judge whether the project would meet B.C.'s condition of world-leading spill response systems.

According to the provincial filing, Kinder Morgan refused to release its Emergency Response Program, citing its confidential and sensitive contents.

That could instead be treated as a confidential filing, the province argued, if the NEB decides it can't be safely put on the public record.

But the province indicated it may argue against confidentiality, citing a federal government pledge for more transparent pipeline safety regulations that ensure that companies' emergency and environmental plans are "easily available to the public."

"The province is not able to prepare questions for the second round of intervenor information in the absence of adequate responses to the requests filed for the first round."

B.C. also wants the NEB to extend its Sept. 11 deadline for intervenors to file second-round information requests, saying it's "impossible" to file meaningful follow-up questions by then, even if Kinder Morgan provides more information in the meantime.

The unanswered provincial requests include that Kinder Morgan provide a detailed list of all spills from its pipelines over the past 30 years.

The province also asked if the company would commit to automated pipeline shutdown within 10 minutes if a suspected leak identified by the control centre can't be ruled out within that time.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver, who submitted nearly 500 questions, is among other intervenors who have filed similar motions.

"Many of the answers I received are simply unacceptable," Weaver said. "They are refusing to consider any oil spill larger than a small fraction of a tanker's cargo, and basing their oil spill analysis on a response capacity that simply doesn't exist."

More than 10,000 questions were submitted in the first round of information requests.

Since the process bars oral cross-examination in upcoming hearings, intervenors will have only have one more chance to pose written questions.

Chart of unanswered provincial requests by Jeff Nagel

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