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The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has decided to deny approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline project to proceed in its territory based on the outcomes of its own assessment of Kinder Morgan's proposal.

The assessment, which took over a year to craft and consists of six expert reports, was released yesterday at a press conference held at Whey-ah-Wichen Park in North Vancouver.

“What we know is that everything that we get out of the water is good, and what Kinder Morgan … is doing and trying to do isn't,” Tsleil-Waututh Sacred Trust Initiative member Rueben George said during the press conference. “It goes against our laws of our culture and our spirituality; it goes against our laws of our lands and our waters.”

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline project proposes almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipeline to carry diluted bitumen from Edmonton to Burnaby. If approved, the expansion would bring a five- to seven-fold increase in the number of oil tankers through the Burrard Inlet.

The Tsleil-Waututh report found that the fumes from spilled oil have the potential to make over one million people sick within two hours. It also states that an oil spill would seriously harm all components of the Tsleil-Waututh economy.

Kinder Morgan, Rueben George, Tsleil-Waututh
Rueben George addresses the crowd during the presentation of the assessment. Photo: Carlos Tello

The assessment is accompanied by a statement signed by four law professors that recognizes and commemorates the release of the report.

“The Tsleil-Waututh’s assessment is a pioneering example of a First Nation acting on its authority to review and decide whether a project should proceed in its territory,” the statement reads.

The professors warn that Tsleil-Waututh’s decision to oppose the pipeline project is legally significant because of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Tsilhqot’in decision that puts more responsibility on resource developers to obtain consent from First Nations.

In an emailed statement, Kinder Morgan said that the company “deeply respects aboriginal rights and title,” and that they will fully respond to Tsleil-Waututh’s report through the National Energy Board's evaluation process.

The assessment is available for download here.