Oil spill response vessels take to Burrard Inlet for an exercise, Sept. 19, 2018. (Trans Mountain Corp.)

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Trans Mountain Corp., the new federal Crown corporation that now owns the only oil and fuel pipeline from Alberta to B.C., conducted what it calls one of the facility’s largest emergency response exercises on Burrard Inlet Wednesday.

The exercise was to comply with National Energy Board and Transport Canada requirements for the pipeline and its Westridge Terminal for shipping from Burnaby, whose expansion plan was put on hold in late August after a court ruling suspended its permits.

The exercise included water-based response activities that included an off-site incident command post involving multiple agencies. The company conducts about 20 drills a year, including equipment deployment and training that are evaluated by regulatory agencies.

Wednesday’s exercises involve existing spill response capacity. Kinder Morgan Canada committed $150 million to increased response equipment and bases conditional on completion of the twinning project, but that work has been put on hold twice.

The first halt was in April when Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential spending on the expansion project and sought assurances that further delays wouldn’t be imposed on the project.

The second came Aug. 30, when the Federal Court of Appeal cancelled the federal cabinet order authorizing construction, calling for further consideration of marine impacts from the extra tanker traffic and another round of consultation with affected Indigenous groups.

Despite the general stall, work continues on six temporary material storage sites in B.C. and Alberta along the line. A security fence around the Burnaby terminal, site of a series of protests and arrests, has also been completed.

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Kinder Morgan Canada CEO Ian Anderson has been retained to head Trans Mountain Corp., after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took over the 65-year-old pipeline and expansion project and vowed it will be completed.

Anderson extolls the company’s safety record, with no marine spills since terminal operation began in 1956. It remains Canada’s only pipeline to the Pacific coast.

“We have built well-established relationships with Indigenous communities, landowners and neighbours over our 65 years of operating a pipeline system in urban centres, through farmlands, across borders and some of the country’s most pristine park lands,” Anderson said in a public message after the federal takeover.

The park lands include Jasper National Park, where the company completed a portion of the expansion project in 2008, without incident or protest.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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