Letter: Pipeline would endanger human life

The Editor,

I am writing regarding the threat to, and potential loss of, human life in the event of the Trans Mountain Pipeline completion.

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To date, we have tried everything that should have been near, dear and important, from orca and salmon extinction to Indigenous rights — but none of that has stopped this behemoth project.

I come at this as a nurse and a Canadian. Where did it become “national interest” to accept loss of human life in industrial accidents as acceptable risk of doing business? The “human life factor” has slipped through the cracks on this and I find that shocking and telling of the times we are living in.

Some 2.5 million people live in Metro Vancouver. Should there be a tank farm fire, tanker collision with another vessel or one of the bridges, there is no way to evacuate that many people due to bridge and road bottlenecks. Unprepared first responders who do not know the gas and chemical content of the released condensate cloud are disadvantaged to help effectively (Kinder Morgan has not had to release that info). The hospitals will not be able to manage a crisis of that size.

Based on benzene alone, people would experience burning in their mucous membranes — their eyes, the nose, throat and lungs. Panicking people who are unable to breathe may try to flee to safety but will not be able to because we will be trapped. There is no means of evacuation.

The BC government is telling people to seal doors and windows and stay in a windowless room for an unknown amount of days, if they can shelter at home and if air leaks are a minimum. If people are caught outside, there would be fatalities, especially those with fragile health — i.e., the very young and very old.

I am horrified that this major risk to human life is being dismissed. That the requests that a “human health impacts study” be undertaken is being ignored.

Do the lives of the people on Burnaby Mountain, the Indigenous, the people who live around Burrard Inlet with their families, the grandparents, people with pre-existing respiratory issues that are just barely coping with summer pollutants, let alone bitumen and a toxic condensate cloud. Do these lives mean nothing in the face of a political deal politicians claim is in the national Interest?

We need answers. We need to know how to prepare. How will we be warned? Do we need gas masks in our cars and homes?

I humbly request any influence you have in this situation be brought to bear to help alleviate anxiety that is building.

L. Johansen, Port Moody

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