An oil spill that occurred at Trans Mountain’s Sumas Pump Station in Abbotsford has caused Indigenous leaders all across British Columbia to speak out.
The spill, which was approximately 150,000 litres of mixed sweet crude oil, occurred late on Friday night approximately eight kilometres east of Abbotsford. The Trans Mountain main line was shut down and isolated to prevent any further release.
Abbotsford Fire Department, Trans Mountain, the National Energy Board, Transport Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy all responded to the incident. It has not been revealed how much was spilled.
A press release from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs stated that a field nearby the station was impacted, and cows that normally graze in the field has to be moved.
“Our main concern is for the clean-up of this spill and preventing further impacts to our territory,” stated Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation. “We need to have our monitors on the ground immediately. We need to understand what is going on from our point of view, how much oil spilled, what has been impacted, and what needs to be done to clean it up. We cannot continue to have our land desecrated by oil spills. This is the fourth time in 15 years that this pipeline has had a spill on our land.”
Silver noted that the proposed pipeline expansion plans would run adjacent to the Lightning Rock site – a cultural site and burial grounds significant to the Sema:th First Nation and Stό:lō Coast Salish Peoples.
“The broken and aging Trans Mountain pipeline is a potent symbol of economic uncertainty at a time when Canadians are desperate for recovery from COVID-19. Justin Trudeau, you bought a lemon,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC. “This is a pivotal moment demanding strong leadership that understands the need for a drastic shift to clean energy development. It is an absolute waste of taxpayer money to keep investing in old technology for a fossil fuel product that is toxic to our environment.”
“We conducted our own assessment of Trans Mountain using leading science and Tsleil-Waututh’s Indigenous law that concluded that oil spills are inevitable, can’t be fully cleaned up, and have devastating effects,” stated Chief Leah George-Wilson, Chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “This most recent spill is another reminder that the risk is too great to accept. The Trans Mountain pipeline has already spilled more than 80 times since it began operating. This is why we continue to fight the Trans Mountain Expansion in the courts.”
Trans Mountain stated that the spill had been fully contained by Saturday and there was no risk to the public.