Oil tanker traffic is expected to in west coast waters with the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension.

Juan de Fuca tugs to escort oil tankers to Buoy Juliet

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline extension is expected to result in a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic off Vancouver Island.

As the increase in tanker traffic looms over west coast waters, the call for added safety surrounding these crude-bearing ships is ever more pressing to Southern Vancouver Island residents.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline extension is expected to result in a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic off Vancouver Island.

Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks has received reassurance from Kinder Morgan that it will extend tug escort from Burrard Inlet to the entrance of the shipping lane at Buoy Juliet, about 16 kilometres off Vancouver Island.

“If we are forced to have additional tanker traffic traveling in the Salish Sea, I personally feel better that an escort tug will accompany the tankers safely through the Strait of Juan de Fuca Strait and let them go at Buoy Juliet,” Hicks said.

The idea of enhanced tug escort was considered in a report compiled by Trans Mountain, Transport Canada and the Pacific Pilotage Authority, indicating a tug escort is “an important mitigation measure.”

The National Energy Board also agreed on the mandatory requirement for tug escorts to Buoy Juliet as a condition for the Trans Mountain project to continue.

So far, tug boats escort the tankers as far as Race Rocks and release them.

Considering the consistent opposition of voters from Sooke region voters, Hicks hopes this new regulation of a full-length tug escort goes into place soon.

“The people of [Juan de Fuca] were opposed to an increase of tanker traffic from the start, but if an increase in tankers comes, regardless of how we feel about it, it’s imperative to us that there is an escort tug all the way from Burrard Inlet to Buoy Juliet,” Hicks said.

Hicks also suggested that an extra pilot be onboard every fully loaded tanker as an added precaution, though Kinder Morgan denied this was necessary.

“Both Trans Mountain’s consultants and the Pacific Pilotage Authority found the existing risk controls for navigation were sufficient to address the hazards beyond Race Rocks and that these did not warrant a further extension of pilotage,” wrote Mike Davies, senior director of marine development for Trans Mountain.