Vancouver's economy could suffer a $1.2-billion blow in case of a major oil spill caused by Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, concludes a new report released by the city.
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The report, by the University of B.C.'s Fisheries Economics Research Unit, examined the potential economic costs of a 16-million litre spill in Burrard Inlet.
Researchers looked at the performance of five ocean-dependent activities that are closely linked to the marine environment, including commercial fishing, port activities, inner harbour transportation, tourism and recreation.
The report found that these activities directly employ four per cent of the city's population and contribute more than $3 billion in gross domestic product to Vancouver's economy every year.
"Ocean-dependent economic activities in Vancouver encompass only a portion of the local economy that could experience losses from a hydrocarbon spill in the Burrard Inlet. Still, the potential impacts of an oil spill run into hundreds of million dollars," the report said.
Vancouver readying to submit evidence
The City of Vancouver is publishing a series of reports critical of the Trans Mountain expansion leading up to its submission of evidence next week to the National Energy Board, which is reviewing the project.
Kinder Morgan hopes to triple its bitumen-carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe near the existing pipeline that runs from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.
The expansion would increase the number of oil tankers in Burrard Inlet to 34 per month from five, according to the city.
Kinder Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report, which was commissioned by the city and released Friday, analyzed two spill scenarios in Burrard Inlet — in May and in October. It found the economy could suffer more than double the economic losses in spring during peak tourist season
A spill in May could cause total losses ranging from $380 million to $1.23 billion, without counting the cost of recovery and cleanup, it concluded.
The city also released a separate modelling animation showing the movement of oil following a hypothetical 16-million litre spill near the Second Narrows Bridge on the city's east side.
Time-lapse animation showed multiple black specks, each representing 2,000 litres of oil, spreading toward West Vancouver before flowing back toward Coal Harbour and clinging to the shoreline around Burrard Inlet.
The studies come just a week after the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, and the Tsleil-Waltuth Nation released an environmental impact study on a potential spill near the Lions Gate Bridge, that predicted dire consequences for the Burrard Inlet in a matter of hours.