Kinder Morgan is giving thought to putting its Trans Mountain pipe twinning project around rather than through Westsyde.
But nothing is certain at this point.
Project director Greg Toth fielded questions about the $4.1-billion project from Kamloops City council Tuesday.
"It's early days, we're about four months into this process," he said.
The three main issues he's heard concerning Kamloops are routing through Westsyde residential areas, proximity to the proposed Ajax mine and sensitively getting the pipeline under the Thompson River.
The pipeline project plans call for a 30-inch diameter pipe to match the existing pipe that runs 1,150 kilometres from Edmonton through Kamloops to Burnaby.
The first pipe was laid down in 1953 and is the primary transporter of gas to Interior and Southern B.C. It handles 47.6 million litres of oil products a day, including heavy and light crude, distillates and gasoline. Toth said that's the equivalent of a 34,000-litre capacity tanker leaving Edmonton for Vancouver every minute in 24 hours.
In the 60 years since, Westsyde has seen hundreds of homes built and The Dunes golf course created right on top of the pipeline. Tearing up streets and private properties to add a second pipeline is a concern for residents of the area, who are also worried about ruptures and leaks.
"We want to look at areas of least impact. We may need new routing in some locations," Toth said.
"Westsyde has seen development around the pipeline. So we'll look at options that won't disturb the residents."
Coun. Ken Christian said he's heard Westsyders' concerns, too and wondered how the company would deal with emergencies or leaks.
Toth said there's a 24-hour monitoring system with alarms and valves along the pipes that can fully close in seven minutes to isolate the leak area.
Coun. Nancy Bepple asked how many spills Trans Mountain has had in its 60 years in Kamloops.
Toth said there was a spill at the station here last year due to underground piping. It was small. The largest here was 15 kilometres downstream of Kamloops, when about 600 barrels spilled. That was in 1962.
"We've had 78 spills in the last 51 years," he said of the pipeline in its entire 1,155-kilometre path. "Of those 78, most take place at our stations and facilities. That's where there are valves, and higher risk. But we have early warning systems, switches that will tell us something abnormal is happening."
The project also has to take into consideration another controversial possibility: the proposed Ajax mine south of Kamloops.
Blasting and other mine activity could affect the pipeline's integrity, and Toth said the Ajax plans are being closely monitored.
He said there are two pumping stations vital to keep the oil moving in the pipeline: Edmonton and Kamloops. The expansion would mean another pumping station here and twin pumps at Blackpines north of the city.
The company has 17 staff working in Kamloops to maintain its facilities here.
The twinning is in the early stages of a three-year application process, Toth said. The decision would be made in 2015 and, if approved, construction would take another two years. At its peak, building the pipeline would require 3,200 workers.
"I see Kamloops as a central hub. We haven't evolved the construction plan very far yet, but we will need service support," he said, referring to such spinoffs as lodging, restaurants and even laundry.
Public consultations are required and Toth said they'll be starting next month. Sessions in Kamloops are expected to be held in early November and will be advertised.