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Burnaby Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline protester chains himself under SUV

Angry protesters stopped crews doing pipeline survey work on Burnaby Mountain, forcing Kinder Morgan to reassess how it will finish work needed for a National Energy Board decision.

Proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would bore through municipal conservation area

Work crews on Burnaby Mountain were confronted Wednesday morning, and one teenage protester chained himself under one of their vehicles 2:14

A teenage protester chained himself under a Kinder Morgan worker's vehicle on B.C.'s Burnaby Mountain Wednesday, at a demonstration against the controversial proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

George Khossi, 18, crawled under a survey crew's SUV, wrapped himself around the front tire and refused to leave.

Meanwhile, angry protesters stopped crews from conducting pipeline survey work at a nearby proposed bore hole, confronting a Trans Mountain survey crew, yelling "go back to Texas."

Stephen Collis, a spokesperson for the protesters who call themselves the Caretakers, said they plan to hunker down.

"We're currently occupying the space that they have identified that they need to work in. Since we're on public land, we have every right to be here," he said.

"They can't really work in a space that's filled with dozens of people. That's the intention."

Protesters calling themselves The Caretakers have set up camp on Burnaby Mountain, in opposition to Kinder Morgan plans to bore through the municipal park to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline. (CBC)

The pipeline expansion would almost triple the capacity of the existing pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast to about 900,000 barrels of crude a day. 

But protests like the one on Wednesday may force the company to reassess how it will finish the work needed for a National Energy Board decision on the proposed expansion.

Indeed, workers left the site in another vehicle, and one man was seen carrying several signs under his arm that read "No Entry Until Further Notice" and "Field Testing Area Under Order of the National Energy Board."

Greg Toth, senior director for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion project, said all survey work on the mountain was stopped Wednesday, although other crews were still working around Burnaby.

He said he wasn't yet sure if the company would ask for an injunction preventing protests.

"We have to reassess, based on today's activities," said Toth. "It's quite a vocal protest. Our priority is the safety of our crews and the general public. So we'll retrench and look at what options are available."

This photo shows the neighbourhood of Parkcrest in North Burnaby, with Burnaby Mountain in the background. Kinder Morgan wants to bore its pipeline through the mountain. (Flying Penguin/Pacific Spirit Photography/Wikimedia Commons)

Burnaby and Kinder Morgan locked in battle

The protests follow an announcement Tuesday by the City of Burnaby, in which it said that it plans to appeal a National Energy Board decision granting the energy giant access to the municipal conservation area.

Burnaby and Kinder Morgan have been locked in battle over the $5.4-billion pipeline expansion, with both sides filing duelling legal actions in court and applications with the National Energy Board.

But the energy board ruled last week that Burnaby can't stop the company's activities because the geotechnical work is needed by the board, so it can make recommendations to the federal government about whether the project should proceed.

The board's order forbids the City of Burnaby from undertaking any bylaw enforcement. It also says Kinder Morgan must give the city written notice of work 48 hours in advance and must remediate any damage.

Stumps and branches of trees that were recently cut down by workers hired by Kinder Morgan are seen in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area, in Burnaby, B.C., on Wednesday September 10, 2014. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

It is the first time the National Energy Board has ever issued an order to a municipality.

Toth said the National Energy Board and the Federal Court have given the company every right to do work needed to support the decision-making process.

He said it's ironic that crews haven't been allowed on Burnaby Mountain, considering the company and city residents have determined the route is the least disruptive option.

"It's really in response to strong feedback from the local residents and the general public in the area for the alternative
routing, which would have been through the streets," he said.

In July 2007, a geyser of oil from the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline impacted 100 homes in Burnaby's Westridge neighbourhood after a road work crew accidentally ruptured the line, spilling 250,000 litres. The cleanup cost about $15 million.

Google Map: Burnaby Mountain, B.C.

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes and The Canadian Press

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