Construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline was completed in 1953. Few or no protests occurred during the construction phase nor during most of the 65 years it has been in operation. So why the protests that began when the company announced the proposed twinning of the existing pipeline?
The principal opposition today is not directed toward the pipeline as such, but rather the product proposed to be transported through the line (diluted bitumen, also referred to as dirty oil or dilbit). The salient issue, in my view, is the transferring of dilbit onto tanks moving through our coastal waterways and the irreparable damage that will result from the inevitable spills that will occur. Many coastal First Nations communities also rely on the Salish Seas as a food source.
So, is there a solution for bringing an end to these continuing protests? If the dilbit was refined prior to being loaded onto ocean going vessels, either at Fort McMurray or somewhere near the tanker loading docks, I suspect the protests would be significantly reduced or might even disappear.
Some detractors with balk at the large capital costs associated with building a new refinery at either of the locations referred to above. The revenue generated from the sale of refined products is however far greater than that generated from the sale of dilbit and would, in the long run, pay for a significant part of the cost of constructing the refinery.
An added benefit would be the hundreds of jobs created during the construction phase and the long term employment generated for those employed in operating the completed facility.
For more than half a century refined oil has been transported via the Trans Mountain Pipeline without any significant environmental damage or protests.
Could we not return to those peaceful days of the past?