As Kinder Morgan visits Fraser Valley communities holding open houses on its Trans Mountain oil pipeline twinning project, the National Energy Board (NEB) has issued a critical report into the company’s oil spill in Abbotsford earlier this year.
On Jan. 24, 110,000 litres of oil leaked from a holding tank at Kinder Morgan’s Sumas Mountain terminal site. The cause was pressure on a gasket caused by freezing water, according to the NEB.
The report issued earlier this month to interested parties and posted on the NEB site on Nov. 22 found “the leak was detected later than it should have been,” the company’s management of procedures was “inadequate” and that the operator “failed to recognize the leak situation” on two occasions.
Critics of the company and its Trans Mountain pipeline say the report reveals deficiencies in Kinder Morgan’s response to leaks.
“When I ask the company about the risk of spills they point to the spill at the tank farm in Abbotsford in January this year, which they claim was ‘quickly contained,'” Michael Hale, Chilliwack resident and member of the PIPE UP network said. “Over 110,000 litres of a noxious petroleum product were spilled. The more information I get, including this report from the National Energy Board, suggests that the containment was not that simple or quick.”
In material handed out at the Chilliwack open house on Tuesday, the company says: “Trans Mountain pump stations and terminals have monitoring and spill containment systems that are rigorously maintained and meet NEB standards.”
The comparison has been made to the huge oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010 that was not noticed by Enbridge’s monitoring system in Edmonton for 17 hours.
In the Abbotsford spill, the NEB report said that at 2:39 a.m. on Jan. 24, a “creep” alarm was received at Trans Mountain’s Edmonton control centre but it was determined to be a false alarm due to high winds.
A second alarm at 3:11 a.m. was also dismissed as false.
It took two more alarms and a shift change before a terminal operator was sent out at 5:50 a.m. to attend the Sumas site and investigate the cause of the alarm.
At 6:50 a.m.-four hours after the first alarm-the operator arrived on site, discovered the leak, closed the valve and isolated the source.
There were no injuries or environmental damage as the leak was contained to the site although noxious fumes were released that affected neighbours.
The NEB was notified of the leak at 8:16 a.m. after the Transportation Safety Board and before the nearby Auguston Traditional School, the Abbotsford Police, FVRD, Fraser Health and MLAs John van Dongen and Randy Hawes, among other agencies.
Since 1961, there have been 78 reported spills on the Trans Mountain pipeline some of which were below the reportable threshold of 1.5 cubic barrels.
More than 70 per cent of all spills have occurred at pump stations or terminals, according to Kinder Morgan.
The company is currently amid public consultation meetings on a $4.3-billion twinning of its 1,150-kilometre pipeline. This would more than double the capacity from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 750,000 bpd.
For its part, Kinder Morgan representatives say they have learned from recommendations made after every spill.
Critics are quick to point to incidents such as the one in Abbotsford as a cause for concern.
“Including the spill 2012, there have been a total of four major spills since Kinder Morgan bought this line in 2005,” said Chilliwack resident and PIPE UP member Sheila Muxlow. “One in Abbotsford in 2005 spilled 210,000 litres into Kilgard Creek. A spill of 250,000 litres in Burnaby in 2007 caused people to be evacuated from their homes, a cleanup that took over a year and fines levied on Kinder Morgan. Another spill in Burnaby in 2009 resulted in 200,000 litres being spilled at the tank farm there.”
The Nov. 22 report concluded: “The NEB expects companies to demonstrate a commitment to continual improvement in safety, security, and environmental protection, and in promoting a positive safety culture and strong management systems. The Board is satisfied that TMPU’s corrective actions are appropriate to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.”
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Original source article: Kinder Morgan ignored warnings in Sumas Mountain oil spill: report
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