Oil spill confirmed as source of strong smell in Abbotsford

A Kinder Morgan facility undergoes a cleanup, and the company says there are no health risks to local residents.

The Kinder Morgan site on Sumas Mountain Road in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill on Tuesday morning (Jan. 24).

The Kinder Morgan site on Sumas Mountain Road in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill on Tuesday morning (Jan. 24).

A strong gas-like smell reported in the Auguston area of Abbotsford has been attributed to an oil spill in a Kinder Morgan facility.

Kinder Morgan Canada spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield said oil was discovered in a tank containment area at the Sumas terminal just before 7 a.m. today (Tuesday).

The company operates an oil pipeline that runs in the vicinity of Sumas Mountain, and has an oil storage facility in the 4100 block of Upper Sumas Mountain Road, just southeast of McKee Road.

“To be clear, although we have oil in a containment area at Sumas Terminal, and local area residents are experiencing nuisance odours, there are no health concerns,” she said.

Hobenshield said the spill has been contained on the property. Workers are in the process of placing foam on the oil and vacuuming it up. Air quality in the area will be monitored, she added.

The cause of the release is under investigation.

“Appropriate regulatory agencies have been notified, along with local authorities and residents,” Hobenshield said.

Local residents reported experiencing headaches and nausea due to the strong smell, and students at nearby Auguston elementary were kept inside for part of the day. Once the smell dissipated, they were permitted outside for the last 10 to 15 minutes of the lunch break, said school distirct spokesman Dave Stephen.

Lark Rafuse, who lives in the Straiton Bowl area north of the Kinder Morgan site, said the smell was “horrible.”

“I’m trying to stay inside … It would give you a terrible headache if you were to stay outside for any time,” she said.

Police, Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service and FortisBC all received calls about the odour. Fortis spokesperson Lisa Corcoran said one of their technicians was on site and determined that a natural-gas leak was not involved.

“We want to thank the public for calling … Whenever there is a gas or sulphur smell, it’s the right thing to do, and give us a call.”

The public is being asked to stay clear of the area while the cleanup takes place.

Kinder Morgan’s 110 km Puget Sound pipeline system sends crude oil from the main pipeline in Abbotsford to refineries in Washington State.