Trans Mountain pipeline hearings

The National Energy Board (NEB) is reviewing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) proposal to expand the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby. The District of North Vancouver — as well as a number of other municipalities along the pipeline route and Burrard Inlet — has been granted Intervener status to participate in this review.

Why intervener status?

Intervener status allows us to acquire further information and be involved in discussions at the hearings, including potential environmental and social effects of the project, cumulative environmental effects, the potential impact of tanker shipping, aboriginal impacts, contingency planning for spills, accidents and malfunctions and the economic feasibility of the project. 

Work we've done so far

We have reviewed the Trans Mountain proposal submitted to NEB with the associated reports and have conducted or attended meetings and participated in the initial round of inquiries through 2015. 

Review Trans Mountain's application

Project overview

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) is a proposal to expand the existing Trans Mountain pipeline system between Edmonton, AB and Burnaby, BC. It would include approximately 987 km of new pipeline, new and modified facilities, such as pump stations and tanks, and the reactivation of 193 km of existing pipeline. The Westridge Marine Terminal would also be expanded.

New pipeline segments would be added between Edmonton and Hinton, AB, Hargreaves, BC and Darfield, BC and Black Pines, BC and Burnaby, BC.

Map of the pipe line route between Edmonton and Burnaby
Project overview map (produced by the National Energy Board, 2013)

History and current operations

The existing Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953 and extends 1150 Km from Strathcona County near Edmonton to the Westridge Marine Terminal on Burrard Inlet in Burnaby (one of four destinations for the pipeline).

The pipeline initially transported 150,000 barrels / day to the Westridge Terminal and has since expanded to its current capacity of 300,000 barrels / day.  The Westridge Terminal currently loads an average of 5 Aframax size tankers, 2 crude oil barges and receives 1 jet fuel barge (off-loaded into a separate pipeline system to Vancouver International airport) monthly at one berth. This accounts for about 3% of the marine traffic on the Inlet.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline transports crude oil, semi-refined and refined products in a series in the same pipeline. These include refined petroleum (examples: gasoline, diesel or iso-octane), synthetic crude (example: processed bitumen), light crude (example: conventionally sourced crude oil) and heavy crude (diluted bitumen).

The tankers leave Burrard Inlet and turn south through the Salish Sea passing through the Gulf Islands, by Victoria and then west out to the open ocean.

Map of shipping lanes for oil tankers leaving Burrard Inlet
Marine shipping lanes (from "Regional Location of Marine Shipping Lanes)

Expansion proposal

The proposed expansion would create a twinned pipeline along the route that would increase the capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day ending at the Burnaby, Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet shown in Figure 2 (across the Inlet from Cates Park, District of North Vancouver).

Map showing the location of the Westridge Marine Terminal
Location of the Westridge Marine Terminal 

 

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would require an expansion of the Westridge Terminal with the elimination of the current berth and construction of 3 new dock berths extending an additional 250 meters out into the inlet. The tanker shipments would increase from an average of 5 Aframax size (partially laden 85%) tankers per month to up to 34 Aframax size (partially laden 85%) tankers per month. (Larger tankers are not permitted into the harbour). The increased tanker traffic would account for 14 % of the traffic on the Inlet. The current barge traffic described above would remain the same.

Project review process

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project is being reviewed by the National Energy Board (NEB) in accordance with the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act).

About the National Energy Board

The NEB is an independent federal regulator established in 1959 to promote safety and security, environmental protection and economic efficiency. The NEB does this in the Canadian public interest within the mandate set by Parliament for the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade. The Board reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.

The NEB is established under the National Energy Board Act (NEB Act), which sets out the mandate for the NEB. The NEB Act establishes the NEB's authority over energy projects and sets the regulatory boundaries for making decisions.

A three-member panel from the NEB are reviewing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The NEB will prepare a report and make a recommendation to the Governor in Council as to whether or not the Project should proceed and, if so, under what conditions. Even if it recommends that the Project should not proceed, the board must provide conditions for any potential approval by the Governor in Council.

The Board has 15 months to complete its review, the maximum time allotted to complete the review subject to any modifications allowed under the NEB Act. After receiving the recommendation from the NEB, the Governor in Council has three months to make a decision.

An Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment (ESA) and a public hearing are required as part of the NEB review process. The ESA, prepared by Trans Mountain, is provided in the application by Trans Mountain to NEB and is available on the NEB webpage.

About the public hearing

The public hearing is a quasi-judicial process and to participate in the hearing, interested parties needed to apply to the NEB to participate as either intervenors or as commenters by February 12, 2014. More than 2100 individuals and groups submitted applications to participate in the hearing process for the Project. The NEB determined that 400 applicants could participate as intervenors and 1250 as commenters.

What are the issues that are being considered?

The National Energy Board (NEB) has determined a list of 12 issues it will consider during the hearing process:

  1. The need for the proposed project
  2. The economic feasibility of the proposed project
  3. The potential commercial impacts of the proposed project
  4. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of the proposed project, including any cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project, including those required to be considered by the NEB's Filing Manual
  5. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities that would result from the proposed Project, including the potential effects of accidents or malfunctions that may occur
  6. The appropriateness of the general route and land requirements for the proposed project
  7. The suitability of the design of the proposed project
  8. The terms and conditions to be included in any approval the Board may issue
  9. Potential impacts of the project on Aboriginal interests
  10. Potential impacts of the project on landowners and land use
  11. Contingency planning for spills, accidents or malfunctions, during construction and operation of the project
  12. Safety and security during construction of the proposed project and operation of the project, including emergency response planning and third-party damage prevention.

The Board does not intend to consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.

Six key areas that can directly impact the District

Within the NEB list of issues, the District identified six key areas that can directly impact the District or which the District can provide relevant information or local expertise which are:

  1. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of the proposed project, including any cumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project, including those required to be considered by the NEB’s Filing Manual
  2. The potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities that would result from the proposed Project, including the potential effects of accidents or malfunctions that may occur
  3. The terms and conditions to be included in any approval the Board may issue
  4. Potential impacts of the project on landowners and land use
  5. Contingency planning for spills, accidents or malfunctions, during construction and operation of the project
  6. Safety and security during construction of the proposed project and operation of the project, including emergency response planning and third-party damage prevention.

As a result, staff have identified a number of follow up questions or additional questions based on information provided by Trans Mountain in the NEB process.

Download a copy of the Trans Mountain Pipeline intervenor timeline

Our participation in the process

As follow-up to the September 2013 public information meeting hosted by the District, Council received several staff reports and directed staff to apply for intervenor status for the Trans Mountain expansion project.

Intervenor Status

The District of North Vancouver applied to participate in the NEB hearing process on February 12th, 2013, and was granted Intervenor status on April 2, 2013.

Intervener application form DNV

NEB Ruling of Participation 

As an Intervenor, the District can participate in the hearing by:

  • submitting Information Requests (IRs)
  • submitting Notices of Motions
  • submitting Written Evidence
  • commenting on Draft Conditions
  • presenting Arguments during Oral Hearings.

NEB Correspondence

Submission of evidence

May 26, 2015 — Submission of evidence to the National Energy Board

Information request #3 (IR#3)

February 18, 2015 — The District submitted its third Information Request (IR#3) to Trans Mountain

Information request #2 (IR#2)

The District received the compelled responses from Trans Mountain to the District's Information Request #2.

April 27, 2015 — The District received the National Energy Board ruling to compel full and adequate responses to the second round of intervener information requests

The District submitted a final reply to the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2 which was originally submitted on March 16, 2015 after a series of submissions and responses from both parties.

March 12, 2015 — The District received Trans Mountain's response to the District's Notice of Motion regarding the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2

February 26, 2015  — The District submitted a Nation of Motion regarding the adequacy of Trans Mountain's response to the District's Information Request #2

January 16, 2015 — The District submitted its second Information Request (IR#2) to Trans Mountain.

The District received the response on its second information request (submitted on January 16, 2015)

Information request #1 (IR#1)

December 5, 2014 — The District submitted a Letter of Support to the NEB regarding the Province of British Columbia’s second Notice of Motion

June 18, 2014 — The District received the response on its IR#1 from Trans Mountain

May 12, 2014 —The District submitted its first Information Request (IR#1) to Trans Mountain

May 6, 2014 — The District submitted a Letter of Support to the NEB regarding the Motion

Get more information about the NEB and process

Visit the NEB web site

Email: transmountainpipeline.hearing@neb-one.gc.ca
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265.