July 30, 2007

NEB to lead spill response activities following Burnaby pipeline rupture

The National Energy Board (NEB) has been named the lead federal government agency with respect to the cleanup of the July 24 oil spill from a Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline in Burnaby, British Columbia.

The mid-day spill occurred when a third-party contractor doing construction work for the city of Burnaby struck the NEB-regulated Kinder Morgan pipeline buried beneath the street. The 24-inch pipe is on a line connecting the Burnaby Tank Farm with the Westridge Marine Terminal.

The rupture resulted in what witnesses described as a geyser of oil that spewed into the air for nearly half an hour, coating houses and property in the area. The precise volume of oil released remains to be confirmed, but was estimated at 234,000 litres.

The NEB is leading the co-ordinated response of federal and provincial agencies. The Board's environmental, emergency response and integrity management specialists are on site and have established an emergency operations centre for federal agencies.

Also responding to the spill are Kinder Morgan Canada (which has enacted its Emergency Response Plan), the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), RCMP, and local authorities, including the city of Burnaby. Further assistance is being provided by a Regional Environmental Emergencies Team, whose members are drawn from the NEB as well as Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the BC Ministry of Environment and the Vancouver Port Authority.

Cleanup efforts currently under way will focus on short- and long-term remediation of the environment. The NEB's priorities are the safety of local residents, the containment and cleanup of the spill and assisting the TSB in its assessment of the incident.

Some of the spilled oil migrated into nearby Burrard Inlet, and crews deployed containment booms to minimize environmental damage. There is a possibility that some of the houses that were showered with oil will have to be demolished.

The cleanup could take weeks and cost millions of dollars. BC Environment Minister Barry Penner noted that the province's Spill Cost Recovery Regulation will allow the government to recover the cleanup costs from the responsible parties. Determining responsibility, however, will be part of the TSB's investigation.

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