Transportation Safety Board releases report on Burnaby oil spill

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The Transportation Safety Board released on Wednesday the final results of an investigation into the pipeline rupture that blackened a North Burnaby neighbourhood with crude oil in July 2007.

The investigation concluded that a lack of communication was one of the main factors that contributed to the break.

“We came to the conclusion that the lack of respect for on-site pre-construction procedures and inadequate communication compromised the safe operation of the pipeline,” said Larry Gales, the investigator in charge.

Almost 250,000 litres of oil spilled into Burrard Inlet and Burnaby Bay after contractors ruptured a Kinder Morgan pipeline.

According to the TSB, the pipe, which was 610 mm in diameter, was struck and punctured by a contractor’s excavator bucket during excavation of a trench for a new storm sewer line along Inlet Drive in Burnaby.

The report indicated that the pipeline was not accurately represented on the contractors’ design drawings, which were based on a 1957 drawing. The oversight is what caused the “discrepancy between its location [on the drawing] … and its actual field location.”

210,000 litres of oil were recovered after a massive clean-up along the coastline.

In addition to the environmental damage, crude oil also sprayed 11 houses and caused a large evacuation of the area, in which 250 residents were asked to leave their homes.

Among some of the safety measures taken since the accident, is the creation of a multi-agency group organized by the National Energy Board to share information during site clean-up.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said he agrees future accidents could be prevented with better communication procedures.

“I think that in all cases like this, communication is key,” he said. “I think that the report will reflect their recommendations on what should happen in communication and what did happen in this particular situation.”

An audit of Kinder Morgan’s damage-prevention program is also currently taking place.