Who are the Concerned Professional Engineers?
An experienced group of Independent Professional Engineers. See a list of our members here.
We are a small group of independent Professional Engineers and Engineering Professors. Together we have more than 100 years of experience designing and operating large projects such as arctic drilling structures, offshore supply vessels, double hull tanker barges, oil spill cleanup equipment, tugboats, workboats, marine operations support vessels, and coal terminals.
What is Acceptable Risk?
Kinder Morgan’s stated risk for their expansion is that over the 50 year operating life of their project, there is a 10 percent chance of a moderate spill occurring, moderate being 8.25 million litres. The MV Marathassa spill of April 2015 in English Bay was 2800 litres, and the Exxon Valdes spill of 1989 was approximately 40 million litres of crude.
Yet, the acceptable risk for a building designed to withstand an earthquake is 2% over a 50 year operating life, and for a bridge, it is 1/10 of 1%. If we are going to allow tankers into the Vancouver area, what is the risk level that we accept? Is it the same as earthquakes or collisions with bridges, which have more stringent codes, or should exceptions be made? CPE believes that the risk of a spill in KM’s Transmountain Expansion analysis is too high, and we are opposed to the expansion.
While we know what Kinder Morgan’s findings are for spills, we do not know what they determine to be the risk of colliding with a bridge in the Burrard Inlet. If the Second Narrows Highway bridge were disabled, it would be devastating to Greater Vancouver and its economy.
We believe that a proper analysis of risk needs to be made to ascertain whether risks proposed by Kinder Morgan are acceptable and this needs to be peer reviewed. As well, it should include the risk of collisions with bridges, and the consequences resulting in bridges being put out of service.
Kinder Morgan TMX Tanker Transit High Risk Ignored
Kinder Morgan’s proposed project to increase their transport of Diluted Bitumen from the Eastern Burrard Inlet to the Pacific Ocean offer risks that are many times higher than those accepted for other major infrastructure projects.
As Concerned Professional Engineers (CPE) we feel this is not acceptable. We believe that a proper analysis of risk needs to be made to ascertain whether risks proposed by Kinder Morgan are acceptable and anything less than that is gross negligence on the part of decision makers.
First, what is risk? The dictionary defines it as a situation involving exposure to danger or exposing someone or something valued to danger, harm or the possibility of financial loss. When it comes to building infrastructure like homes, bridges, buildings and highways, various levels of government have established building codes. These are set parameters for how structures must be built so they meet a tolerable risk.
Kinder Morgan predicts a 10 percent risk of a major oil spill, greater than 8,250 cubic meters during the 50 year operating life of the project. They have not made available the computational tools they used to make that risk analysis. As well, the Port Authority of Vancouver refused a recommendation to clear the Vancouver harbour when the oil tankers would be moving through it. On top of this, the risks and consequences of a tanker hitting the Second Narrows Bridge have not been evaluated, despite our requests to the National Energy Board (NEB). Together these variables increase the risk of the project.
Even accepting Kinder Morgan’s computer generated risk assessment, the Trans Mountain Expansion poses a far higher risk than what is acceptable for buildings and bridges.
Building codes demand that the risk of an earthquake occurring, causing probable collapse of a structure, be no more than two percent over a 50 year period. Kinder Morgan’s numbers are five times higher (10 percent over a 50 period). In other words, the acceptable risk for an oil spill is not up to the same standard as it is for earthquakes.
New bridges like the Port Mann bridge must meet the Canadian Bridge code guidelines that the probability of collapse be no more than 0.5 percent over a 50 year operating life. This is in recognition of the fact that if a ship collides with a bridge it could cause catastrophic damage to the bridge or even collapse.
Historically, there have been a number of collisions with the railway bridge at the Second Narrows, (see image above bridge showing right) when hit by vessels of a much smaller scale (weight, height and width) than that of an Aframax tanker. In one case, the bridge was completely knocked out of service and had to be rebuilt, in another, it took four and a half months to repair the damage. Damage to the Iron Workers Memorial Highway bridge (in image at right) can result in economic catastrophe because it is a main artery of transportation in Vancouver. The bridges are just 110 metres apart. Should an Aframax tanker hit the railway bridge, its superstructure could easily collide with the highway bridge. Is it acceptable to risk collision with any bridges in the Burrard Inlet? Is the consequence of an oil spill in the city of Vancouver, a place seen by the world as both green and vibrant, acceptable? Our answer is ‘no’.