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Unanswered Questions Remain After final Responses from Trans Mountain

Yesterday I submitted a motion to the National Energy Board asking it to compel Trans Mountain to provide full and adequate responses to my second and final round of questions in the hearing process.

The complete 2015-02-26 – MLA Weaver Motion on Adequacy of IR 2 Answers submission raises a number of key issues. Three examples serve to illustrate the additional information we are seeking.

  1. Trans Mountain applied “risk reduction factors” in their risk analysis when certain conditions were met. For example, a risk reduction factor of 2 is applied to tethered escort tugs responding to prevent a powered grounding incident. We asked Trans Mountain to provide us with a formal validation of these numbers. These reduction factors play a critical role in the risk analysis and the chosen values need to be grounded in evidence. I do not believe that asserting them to be appropriate justifies them being appropriate.
  2. I asked a simple question. Please provide a list of any and all equipment owned and operated by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) to recover sunken oil. In response, Trans Mountain asserted that diluted bitumen would not sink (despite the existence of evidence to the contrary). I was not provided with a list of equipment.
  3. We asked Trans Mountain about the worst case wind scenarios that were used in their human health risk assessment. They responded that they chose certain conditions that represent the greatest potential ecological damage. Since we’re talking about a human health impact assessment, Trans Mountain’s claim that they chose certain conditions that represent the greatest potential ecological damage is not answering whether the scenario for both Arachne Reef and Westridge terminal constitute worst case scenarios in terms of impact on human health.

The press release that we issued at the time is reproduced below.


Media Statement: February 27, 2015
MLA Weaver: Unanswered questions remain after final responses from Trans Mountain
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party has submitted a motion to the National Energy Board (NEB), asking it to compel Trans Mountain to provide full and adequate responses to his second and final round of questions in the hearing process.

Dr. Weaver is challenging roughly a third of the nearly 100 questions he submitted. He put forth his motion on the basis that the answers were incomplete or did not respond to his question.

“While there’s no doubt that overall the answers I received this time around were more substantive than last time, it’s still disappointing that in a number of cases I failed to receive full and adequate responses to basic questions about the Trans Mountain proposal,” says Andrew Weaver. “I submitted this motion because my constituents are concerned about increased tanker traffic just offshore of our riding and they deserve answers.”

The second round of Information Requests marks the final opportunity intervenors will have to test the evidence submitted by Trans Mountain in its proposal. Dr. Weaver’s questions focus on human health risks associated with the project and follow-up on his previous questions relating to the risks, impacts and response capacity associated with a potential oil spill.

Intervenors have been increasingly critical of the hearing process, noting that the absence of oral cross-examination has seriously undermined their ability to receive answers to even the most basic questions about the pipeline proposal.

During the first round, Dr. Weaver challenged roughly a third of the answers he received to his nearly 500 questions. Intervenors collectively challenged more than 2000 answers with the NEB ruling in intervenors’ favour fewer than 5% of the time.

“I have concerns that this whole hearing process is being treated as a box-ticking exercise. In the first round of questions, I didn’t receive substantive answers to many of my questions and the NEB didn’t seem particularly interested in supporting us to ensure we received full and complete responses. I hope that this time it is different. “

In light of escalating issues with the process, Andrew Weaver continues to call on the B.C. Government to pull out of the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement that it signed with the Federal Government and hold its own, independent hearing process.

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Media Contact
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca
1 250 216 3382

2 Comments

  1. John Jeglum-
    March 4, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    How many people signed the petition to call on the B.C. Government to pull out of the EAEA that it signed with the Fed Government. If enough people signed, this could provide a sampling of the number of people who are unsatisfied with the NEB performance.
    I continue to be impressed with Andrew Weaver’s great efforts to make the NEB respond to the people’s desire to know exactly what dangers and harms this pipeline may cause.

    • March 4, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      We’re at 3000 signatures. We plan to continue to raise awareness on this and will bring it in to the leg soon.