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UPDATE: Environment minister says no health concerns from oil spill

Kinder Morgan
Kinder Morgan's Sumas terminal in Abbotsford is shown at the far right. The Auguston area is on the left, north of McKee Road. A portion of Ledgeview Golf Club can be seen at the bottom left corner.
— image credit: Google Earth

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake says the Kinder Morgan oil spill Tuesday in Abbotsford poses no public health or environmental issues.

Lake said environmental officials have been on site and have confirmed that the spill was contained to company property and has not impacted waterways.

"But we are monitoring the water courses that are there to make sure that is still the case."

Lake said an independent environmental consulting firm is continuing to monitor the air quality.

"We are always unhappy when something like this happens, but it shows the system works quickly ... There do not appear to be any health or environmental concerns at this point."

Kinder Morgan Canada spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield said the cleanup of the company's Sumas terminal – located in the 4100 block of Upper Sumas Mountain Road – was completed Tuesday night.

She said foam was applied to the spill – estimated to be 110,000 litres – throughout the day and night, and the oil was vacuumed up.

Hobenshield said the volume of the spill was not considered significant.

"The concern was the nuisance caused by the odours for our neighbours."

She said the cause is still under investigation and Kinder Morgan will "implement whatever measures are necessary on a go-forward basis to prevent such incidents in the future."

Residents mainly in the Auguston area of Abbotsford began reporting a strong gas-like smell at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Abbotsford Police, Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service and FortisBC all investigated in an effort to track down the source.

Hobenshield said Kinder Morgan was not made aware of the odour until about 6 a.m. and immediately dispatched someone to the Sumas terminal.

The spill was discovered in a tank containment area just before 7 a.m.

Hobenshield said the oil was fully contained on the Kinder Morgan property.

Meanwhile, a B.C. environmental group has said the incident is a "timely reminder" of the dangers of pipeline expansion.

The Wilderness Committee is among numerous groups opposed to Kinder Morgan's plans to expand the capacity of the 1,150 km Trans Mountain pipeline to increase crude oil exports to Asia and other markets.

The Sumas terminal is part of the pipeline system which brings crude oil from Alberta to terminals that end in Burnaby and Washington State.

Products can be temporarily stored along the pipeline in 22 tanks in Abbotsford, Kamloops and Burnaby.

"With expanded capacity will come expanded risk of spills," West said.

"Residents from Burnaby to Abbotsford – and everywhere along the Kinder Morgan pipeline deserve to have full public consultation about the risks to their health and the environment."

This is the second spill in seven years involving the Abbotsford site.

In July 2005, a rupture was detected in the pipeline on the north side of Ward Road, and several homes were evacuated. A total of 210,000 litres of crude oil was released into the surrounding area and made its way into Kilgard Creek.

 

 

 

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