Community gathers where Canadian oil pipeline crosses Nooksack River to demonstrate concerns of spill risks

August 19, 2018

More than fifty concerned community members came together on Saturday, August 18, on the banks of the Nooksack River where the 64-year-old Puget Sound Pipeline — a segment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline recently bought by Canada — crosses beneath the river, carrying about 30 percent of all crude oil shipped into Washington State.

Several speakers addressed the crowd at Hovander Homestead Park about the risks and hazards of the pipeline, and helped the attendees communicate their concerns to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“It’s really important that Ecology hears from people in the community. Most matters of pipeline safety across the country are out of sight, out of mind, and nobody cares until one blows up,” said Carl Weimer, director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Weimer noted that the Pipeline Safety Trust is often the only one to provide a comment on local pipeline safety plans.

The federal government of Canada recently purchased the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, a Texas company. The transfer of ownership prompted Ecology to open a public comment period, ending August 25, on the pipeline’s Emergency Response Plan, which shows that there is no way to safely contain or clean up a heavy oil spill in the river.

“The Puget Sound region doesn’t have emergency response plans for heavier crude oils. There are only plans to deal with spills of lighter oil, and even these are only capable of cleaning a small fraction of the spill,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “A spill of heavy oil in the Nooksack would be sure to devastate already-threatened salmon runs, which many rely on.”

For videos from the event, visit

Contact: Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager, or 360-733-8307