British Columbia

Kinder Morgan pipeline could pose fire risk in Burnaby, says deputy fire chief

Oil giant would have to double size of its storage facility in the city - and that would bring its own set of risks, says Chris Bowcock.

If the oil giant's plan to triple its pipeline is approved, its Burnaby storage facility would double in size

An aerial view of the tank farm at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby storage facility. The company's proposed expansion would see the number of tanks double to 26. (Trans Mountain pipeline)

Kinder Morgan's proposed tripling of its Trans Mountain pipeline is a major fire safety concern, says Burnaby's deputy fire chief Chris Bowcock.

The oil giant wants to increase its bitumen-carrying capacity to 890,000 barrels a day by laying almost 1,000 kilometres of new pipe near the existing pipeline that runs from Alberta to Burnaby, B.C.

But Bowcock says the increased storage capacity that would be needed at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby tank farm on the Burrard Inlet - from 13 tanks to 26 tanks - would put residents at risk.

"We think the risk to the community from a fire and safety perspective is significant. This is not just continuing on with the existing facility the way it is," he told Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition

"It's significantly changing the impacts to the community, the lives that live in and around, throughout the city of Burnaby ... and that has to be taken seriously in the approval process of this project."

In a report released earlier this month, Bowcock outlined concerns about the positioning and configuration of new tanks on the Kinder Morgan premises.

He says if the tanks are too close together, that increases the possibility of fires spreading from tank to tank. The close proximity would also make it difficult for firefighters.

"A multiple tank event typically creates such a fire front, such a heat impact, and also reduces the places that we can place emergency responders to fight the fire, that in many cases, the extinguishment of that fire would not be possible." 

As a result, area residents, property, and parks would be at risk, he says.

'Nothing more important than safety'

Kinder Morgan has acknowledged the expanded tank farm in its risk assessment of the proposed expansion project, saying it would be within what is considered an acceptable risk by the Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada.

The risk assessment also says each new tank will have a floating roof and water will be routinely collected to avoid fire-igniting boil-overs.

In a statement, Kinder Morgan said safety is its top priority:

"There's nothing more important than the safety of our neighbours and the communities where our pipeline and terminals operate. The terminal in Burnaby has been operating safely for 60 years."

The Burnaby Fire Department has submitted its report as evidence to the National Energy Board's hearings process on the project. Wednesday is the last day for written evidence to be filed with the NEB. 

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: Burnaby deputy fire chief says expanded Kinder Morgan tank farm puts residents, property at risk.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?