British Columbia

Kinder Morgan oil spill clean-up working, says B.C. minister

Environment Minister Terry Lake says he's confident an oil spill in Abbotsford poses no threat to public health or the environment.
Vacuum trucks are being used to recover the 110,000 litres of spilled crude oil in Abbotsford, B.C., Kinder Morgan said. (CBC)

Environment Minister Terry Lake says he's confident an oil spill at an Abbotsford crude oil terminal poses no threat to public health or the environment.

More than 100,000 litres of light crude oil was spilled at Kinder Morgan's Sumas terminal on Tuesday.

Lake describes the spill as fairly minor and said the company Kinder Morgan contained the spill right away.

"At this point we are very happy with the response and no concern at this point has been raised to me in terms of health or the environment," he said.

The escaped oil remained in containment tanks on Kinder Morgan property and has been treated to ensure any odours are contained, he said.

"It's been contained, the odours have been controlled and we're happy with the response of the company at this point," he said.

Lake says he understands residents are concerned about the fumes, but says the company sprayed foam on the spill and is vacuuming it up.

Environmentalists concerned

Environmentalists say the spill raises concerns about Kinder Morgan's plans to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline that currently moves oil from the Alberta tar sands its West Coast terminals.

The Trans Mountain line stretches 1,150 kilometres between Edmonton and terminals in the Vancouver area and Washington State. It carries heavy and light crude oil, as well as refined products such as gasoline and diesel.

The pipeline was shut down in April 2011 to check for leaks after a small amount of crude was found on a farmer's field about 150 kilometres west of Edmonton.

In May 2009 about 200,000 litres of crude oil spilled from a Kinder Morgan storage tank on Burnaby Mountain. The oil was captured in a lined containment bay surrounding the tank, and there were no leaks into the surrounding environment, the company said.

In July 2007, a construction crew digging with an excavator in Burnaby ruptured a Kinder Morgan pipeline carrying crude from the tank farm to a tanker facility on Burrard Inlet on the north side of Burnaby Mountain.

About 234,000 litres of oil shot 30 metres into the air for about 25 minutes, covering some nearby homes, and oozing into Burrard Inlet. The Transportation Safety Board eventually concluded the line was improperly marked on outdated drawings used by the contractor and blamed the spill on inadequate communication between Kinder Morgan and the contractor.

Houston-based Kinder Morgan owns or operates nearly 60,000 kilometres of pipelines and 180 terminals in North America.

Plans by the Enbridge corporation to build a pipeline across northern B.C. have also raised concerns about possible spills.