Doctors call on federal government to conduct Cumulative Health Impact Assessment on Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal
October 26, 2016
The Kinder Morgan pipeline would not only double the number of fuel storage tanks creating an unacceptable risk to peoples’ health from fire, but a rupture or spill could spread toxins into the community,
Ottawa, ON – Today, doctors from across Canada called on the federal government to conduct a Cumulative Health Impact Assessment for the Kinder Morgan pipeline before making a decision on the project. This call to action accompanied the release of a new report that highlights the human health risks of Kinder Morgan’s proposal.
“The Kinder Morgan pipeline would not only double the number of fuel storage tanks creating an unacceptable risk to peoples’ health from fire, but a rupture or spill could spread toxins into the community, causing acute and long term health effects from asthma to cancer,” said Dr. Tim Takaro, a doctor and professor at Simon Fraser University. “The cumulative health impacts of the Kinder Morgan pipeline need to be evaluated, and not by the company, before any rational decision can be made.”
The report outlines potential long and short term health impacts from the proposed pipeline. If approved, the communities along the pipeline and tanker routes would face a triple threat: 1) they would be exposed to routine toxic emissions from the tank farm and pumping station; 2) they would face exposure to dangerous levels of benzene gas and other toxins if there is spill or leak; and 3) they would face climate change impacts that would deteriorate public health as laid out by the World Health Organization.
“As a Pediatric Emergency physician, I am concerned about the children who live near the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” says Ottawa-based MD Dr. Curtis Lavoie. “Shipping toxic diluent through their neighbourhoods creates an unacceptable health risk. We need an independent, cumulative Health Impact Assessment of the risks before we take this leap.”
Kinder Morgan’s proposal to build a second pipeline through BC will result in an almost 10-fold increase in their transportation of diluted bitumen, and a 7-fold increase in tanker traffic through the Salish Sea. Diluted bitumen contains known toxins that create major health risks within exposed populations, particularly the Burnaby communities closest to Westridge Marine Terminal and Kinder Morgan’s tank farm. Yet, as of today, no independent review of health impacts has been completed for this proposal.
“As an MD who is serving a patient population coping with temperatures 2-3 degrees warmer than in the 1950s, I can tell you that climate impacts are real. My patients describe dangerous unstable ice, food shortages from declines in caribou, and stress from dealing with the changes they have seen in the landscape,” said Dr. Courtney Howard, working in Yellowknife. “Approving the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion would be a dangerous step away from the healthy climate we need to leave our kids.”
“Human health impacts are distressing and have been overlooked in the assessment of this pipeline proposal. Neither the National Energy Board nor any other independent review has looked at health impacts when considering bringing bitumen through Vancouver’s harbour,” said Karen Mahon, Director of Stand.earth.