The "No Pipelines No Tankers Solidarity Tour" made its stop in Kamloops last Wednesday evening, and local issues relating to the Trans Mountain pipeline were raised.
Five speakers greeted a packed auditorium.
"Who's opposed to pipelines?" asked the MC. Almost every hand in the room went up.
Organized by the Council of Canadians, speakers included Jim Cooperman, president of the local Shuswap Environmental Action Society, whose powerpoint presentation was full of facts about the tar sands, the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would run directly through Kamloops just as the existing line does.
Sven Biggs, campaign director of Tanker Free B.C., raised an important local issue for Kamloops. There's an open pit copper mine, the Ajax mine, proposed in the city. Still in its approval process, a portion of the mine would be inside city limits in close proximity to neighbourhoods. The connection between Kinder Morgan's expansion plans and the controversial proposed mine was driven home Wednesday evening when Biggs explained the existing pipeline runs very close to the proposed mine blasting pit.
KGHM Ajax spokesperson Norman Thompson said in a phone interview, "[The pipeline is] right beside the pit ... From the proposed pit [the pipeline is] 50 metres."
The Ajax mine feasibility study states: "The feasibility study is based on the assumption that the Trans Mountain pipeline is relocated away from the pit during the first years of operation ... An agreement with Kinder Morgan and a detailed relocation plan of this pipeline is needed at the early stages of the project (estimated cost of U.S. $18 million)."
In its 15 years of projected peak production, the mine would see 257,000 tonnes of rock blasted daily in that pit.
Thompson said plans to avoid damaging the pipeline or to move it are "still in progress," and that Kinder Morgan hasn't yet agreed to move the pipeline, which has run through Kamloops since 1953.
However Len Zenner, the Kinder Morgan Kamloops district supervisor, said, "It's fairly easy to move our line. It's not that that's a huge issue to a pipeline company."
In the mid-'90s, he said, when an existing mine went into the area, Kinder Morgan moved its pipeline.
"In a case like (Ajax), we'll just go around the whole thing," he said.
"[We] don't want to have any issues in a mining area with all the blasting."
As far as where the pipe would be rerouted if Ajax goes in, that's still up in the air, Zenner said, and it will be a while before there is any information.
Opponents of the two proposed pipelines in B.C. will not be resting easy, however.
There are concerns about the bitumen the pipes would carry, due to the toxic natural gas condensate it's mixed with and the high levels of energy used to push it through the pipes; there are also concerns about the potential for pipeline leaks and tanker spills, the increased focus toward export markets, foreign investment in the tar sands and how it relates to new trade agreements like the impending FIPA, the fact that a broad coalition of First Nations have said no to the pipelines, and, fundamentally, the fact that the greenhouse gas emissions of the tar sands are the largest single-point and fastest growing source of emissions in Canada.
Biggs noted that, according to the Alberta Federation of Labour, the proposed Enbridge pipeline would only create 228 long-term jobs, and asked if it was worth it.
Headlining the Solidarity Tour was Council of Canadians' spokesperson Maude Barlow. Local Secwepemc activists Janice Billy and Kanahus Pellkey also spoke at the event.
Larkin Schmiedl is a contributing editor at rabble.ca and the host of Gaydio on CFBX 92.5 FM in Kamloops, B.C., which airs Tuesdays 9-10p.m.
Photo: Council of Canadians