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First Nation plans oil pipeline legal challenge

An oil tanker offshore of Kinder Morgan
An oil tanker offshore of Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal in north Burnaby. Five times as many tankers would load if the company twins its Trans Mountain pipeline.
— image credit: Contributed

The North Vancouver-based Tsleil-Waututh First Nation is going to court to attempt to delay and block Kinder Morgan's proposed twinning of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline.

The band is targeting the National Energy Board's review of the project, which would would result in a five-fold increase in the number of oil tankers passing through Burrard Inlet.

The aboriginal group will allege in Federal Court that the federal government and NEB both failed to adequately consult them on both the planned environmental assessment and regulatory review of the project.

"We will fight this unilateral and one-sided review process and this project with all legal means," Tsleil-Waututh spokesman Rueben George said.

The band says its elders will be cross-examined by Kinder Morgan lawyers, but company experts and representatives won't have to testify under oath.

The NEB would begin hearing aboriginal evidence in hearings starting this August and full oral hearings on the project would start in early 2015.

The $5.4-billion project would twin the 60-year-old oil pipeline that runs from northern Alberta to Burnaby, nearly tripling capacity to 890,000 barrels per day. The second 1,150-kilometre line would carry mainly diluted bitumen for export to Asia.

The band says tanker traffic would make oil leaks or spills inevitable and the risk of a catastrophic one is unacceptable.

The Green Party of Vancouver also said Sunday it will press for a plebiscite as part of the November municipal election on Kinder Morgan's planned pipeline expansion.

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