Kinder Morgan oil pipeline hanging "precariously" in Burnaby

Kinder Morgan pipeline incident Burnaby Mountain November 2015
Kinder Morgan pipeline area along Gaglardi Way where crews were seen attending to an incident Saturday night. Photo by John Clarke.

Burnaby residents were alarmed this weekend by the sight of an exposed high-pressure Kinder Morgan petroleum pipeline on Burnaby Mountain, hanging by a crane wire, apparently threatened by shifting ground due to heavy rains.

Following reports of petroleum smells from neighbours, a large number of trucks and heavy equipment were seen working late into the night on a steep mountain slope around the company’s pipeline.

Burnaby retiree John Clarke attended the scene Saturday night, and photographed a huge crane holding up the company’s petroleum pipeline "precariously" with heavy wires.  The ground around the pipeline had also been washed away by rains, he surmised.

Clarke said it was worrisome that crews told him the fuels in the pipeline were still flowing as the pipeline remained suspended, and crews pumped water away.

“That pipeline could crack and bend and send that fuel down the creek into heavily populated residential areas,” said Clarke.

“In my opinion, they should have shut down the pipeline while they get that pipeline stabilized so they can back fill around the pipe.”

Kinder Morgan pipeline incident Burnaby Mountain November 2015

Kinder Morgan pipeline area along Gaglardi Way where crews were seen attending to an incident Saturday night.  Photo by John Clarke.

Kinder Morgan confirmed the grounds near its petroleum pipeline beside the Gaglardi Way thoroughfare were impacted by City of Burnaby contractors doing work in the area.

“The City of Burnaby contractor has been working on the Gaglardi Way Culvert Crossing project and experienced issues with the slope stability due to heavy rain. Kinder Morgan’s 20-inch product delivery pipeline that runs from Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Terminal to the Suncor Terminal is in the vicinity of the culvert crossing,” said Trans Mountain expansion spokesperson Ali Hounsell Sunday night.

"Kinder Morgan crews have been onsite 24/7 monitoring conditions and taking steps to ensure the continued safety of the pipeline.  There is no threat to the integrity of the pipeline, and operations continue as normal. We continue to work with the City of Burnaby and their contractor as they resolve the slope stability issues,” she added. 

The City of Burnaby confirms its contractor was doing work on the culvert in the area, when the slope became unstable and the pipeline became exposed.  The engineering department says as a precaution Kinder Morgan came in to support the pipeline with a crane, in the event the ground loosened further.  

The incident is reminiscent of a 2007 Kinder Morgan oil pipeline rupture in Burnaby caused by a contractor's backhoe. The accident caused 30-metre high geysers to spew 230,000 litres of oil onto cars and 50 homes over a 25 minute period, the B.C. government determined.  

Dangers of pipelines in residential areas

The exposed pipeline seen Saturday is near the densely populated Forest Grove residential areas. Clarke says this incident is stoking fears about the company’s larger plans, to twin and expand the Trans Mountain pipeline in the area to triple the oil flow between Edmonton and Burnaby.

“It definitely shows the vulnerability of pipelines. Obviously, with all the engineers on hand they didn’t expect this to happen. Yet it shows the dangers of running pipelines through residential areas,” said Clarke.

The National Energy Board will start hearing oral presentations from citizen intervenors about the company's proposed $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion January 18-29 at a Burnaby casino and conference centre.

The incoming Trudeau federal government has pledged to overhaul Canada's process for the environmental review of pipelines.

The National Energy Board are playing down the episode.

"I have confirmed that this is not a pipeline incident. The work at the site was planned, and by all reports, followed expected protocols and procedures.  I understand Trans Mountain was onsite with the City of Burnaby as a proactive precautionary measure while the city completed its work around this portion of pipeline," wrote NEB spokesperson Tara O'Donovan in Calgary.

Kinder Morgan pipeline incident Burnaby Mountain November 2015

Kinder Morgan pipeline being suspended by a crane along Gaglardi Way where crews were seen attending to an incident Saturday night.  Photo by John Clarke.
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