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Second spill in as many weeks shuts Kinder Morgan pipeline

Dene Moore, The Canadian Press; With File From Mike Hager, Vancouver Sun, June 28, 2013

Forces closure of only route linking Alberta oilfields and coast

As one Kinder Morgan crew worked on stemming an oil leak from its Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia on Thursday, another worked on winning over the province's reluctant public for a major expansion of the line.

It was the second time in as many weeks the company was forced to shut down the only pipeline linking the Alberta oilfields with a West Coast shipping port because of a leak, this one about 40 kilometres east of Hope.

As repairs were underway on the latest leak Thursday evening, roughly 50 people opposed to the expansion gathered at Burnaby's McGill Library, about five kilometres from the terminus of the existing pipeline, to ask New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart what they could do to stop it.

"People are getting more and more entrenched against it, so now you're getting fewer questions and more definite 'nos,' "Stewart said after the meeting.

Electrical engineer Kei Esmaeilpour said he is opposed to the expansion because it is not in Canada's national interest to export products like bitumen, which have no value added.

"I am not as environmentalist as maybe the others are, I am more in favour of the economic development," he said.

Pipelines and the oil tankers that go with them have been a hot-button topic in B.C., and Greg Toth, senior project director for the Trans Mountain expansion, said they have been recurring themes in the 37 public meetings his team has hosted in communities all along the would-be route.

Resolutions have been passed opposing the expansion by the city councils of Vancouver and Burnaby, where a 2007 construction accident rained down 230,000 litres of oil on a neighbourhood near Kinder Morgan's Burrard Inlet terminal.

But the Trans Mountain team says the company, from the beginning, has taken a local, community-by-community approach.

Responding to Thursday's spill, Toth said "We have, really, a culture of zero tolerance. Our focus, our job, is to keep the oil in the pipe."

The company was alerted to an "anomaly" in the line and sent a crew to the area Wednesday. That crew discovered oil on the ground and the line was shut down.

A 15-member crew worked through the night, and Kinder Morgan said Thursday that between 20 and 25 barrels of oil spilled, or up to 4,000 litres. Two weeks ago, several barrels of oil seeped from a crack in the line near Merritt.

A National Energy Board emergency response team was on site Thursday to monitor the repair and cleanup of the rural site, about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver. There was no sign of contamination to the nearby Coquihalla River, which the company continues to monitor, and there were no homes near the spill, says agency spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor.

The energy watchdog said its investigators will look at whether the two incidents are isolated or similar in nature. Taylor said the board could not yet confirm the company's estimated release volume, but said 80 cubic metres of contaminated soil was removed.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


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