VIDEO: Pipeline company practises spill response in Abbotsford

Dozens take part in 'deployment exercise' meant to mimic response to spill on Sumas Prairie.

A worker hauls in a skimmer meant to separate water from oil at the conclusion of an oil spill training exercise by Kinder Morgan Wednesday morning.

Dozens of Kinder Morgan Canada workers converged on the Sumas Canal Tuesday and Wednesday as the company practised its response to a spill from its Trans Mountain pipeline on Sumas Prairie.

Jamie Kereliuk, the company’s emergency management director, said the deployment exercise was one of 20 the company will conduct around B.C. this year. Later this fall, it will practise responding to a fire at its Sumas Mountain tank farm.

Kinder Morgan has applied to twin its pipeline, nearly tripling its capacity, and the federal government is expected to make a final decision on the project by December. The National Energy Board has recommended approval, subject to more than 150 conditions, including dozens related to safety.

Kereliuk said this week’s exercises are part of the company’s normal emergency preparedness activities and aren’t linked to the proposed expansion.

On Wedensday, workers dragged a boom across the Sumas Canal, just east of the Barrowtown Pump Station. The boom is intended to funnel contaminated water towards a machine called a “skimmer” that then pumps the fluid into a storage container on land.

In the event of a real spill, Kereliuk said additional crews would work on containing the fluid closer to the source.

The deployment exercise, he said, focuses on ensuring workers know their responsibilities and how to quickly respond in case of emergency. Such exercises are smaller in scale to full-bore exercises, which include multiple agencies. Although the City of Abbotsford had asked the NEB to require Kinder Morgan to conduct full-scale exercises at its Sumas Mountain tank farm, such a condition was not included in the recommendations passed earlier this year.

Kinder Morgan has previously been criticized both by residents and the city for the company’s response to spills on Sumas Mountain in 2012 and 2005. Mayor Henry Braun, though, this year hailed the company for improvements and for locating a rapid response unit in the city. Abbotsford Fire Rescue and Abbotsford Police each had members at this week’s exercises observing the process.

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