Trans Mountain pipeline equipment failure could lead to demise of entire salmon population, Zarrillo warns

Port Moody-Coquitlam MP calls for a halt to TMX

Accusing Trans Mountain of taking a “trial and error” approach to drilling that could put the Fraser River at risk, Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo called for the pipeline project to be shut down and reassessed in a recent open letter.

The letter was addressed to Minister of Natural Resources and North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson as well as Gitane De Silva and , Jean-Denis Charlebois, the CEO and secretary of the commission of the Canada Energy Regulator.

Citing the series of sinkholes around the Mary Hill Bypass, Zarrillo emphasized her concern regarding the construction of the pipeline under the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam.

“More troubling is that the federal government-owned Trans Mountain is alleged to have ignored the advice of its expert consultants who recommended more test drilling as well as highlighted concerns about its choice of standard horizontal direct drilling on soft and untested soils,” Zarrillo wrote.

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The spate of sinkholes around Mary Hill Bypass were attributed to “ground settlement” following the completion of work meant to facilitate the Trans Mountain pipeline project, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Three sinkholes were found and repaired.

Trans Mountain’s announcement that it would “relocate and re-drill” part of the pipeline implies “the application of trial and error, and raises concerns about the risks of this project and its management,” according to Zarrillo.

“In the case of this section of pipeline, the world’s greatest salmon producing river is at risk,” Zarrillo added. “Another event, such as the equipment failure that has already occurred, could lead to the demise of entire salmon populations.”

Zarrillo asked that approval for the re-routing request be withheld until “due diligence has been undertaken and proper studies have been conducted.” Zarrillo also suggested Trans Mountain may be making decisions based on outdated studies, adding that the most recent study was done in 2018.

In a subsequent post on Twitter, Zarrillo added that she didn’t support fuel expansion projects.

“If it is going to happen, it needs to be done as safely as possible with community support,” she wrote.

Zarrillo also echoed the concerns of the Kwikwetlem First Nation regarding artifacts of rich archaeological significance in the area.

The letter was signed by several of Zarrillo’s fellow NDP members including environment and climate change critic Laurel Collins.

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