Trans Mountain reported 12 spills in Burrard Inlet, Burnaby, since beginning of March

Burnaby Now


A tanker fills up at the Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal on the Burrard Inlet. File photo

This story has been updated with new information.

Trans Mountain has reported 12 incidents it categorized as spills at its sites in Burnaby – some entering the ocean – from the beginning of March to the end of May.

Three spills into the Burrard Inlet were reported to the Ministry of Environment, including a release of an unspecified amount of contaminated water, 10 millilitres of lubricating oil, and around 10 mL of grease.

According to Trans Mountain’s monthly construction reports, nine other incidents were categorized by Trans Mountain as “spills,” but only those spills that satisfied reporting criteria were reported to the government.

Trans Mountain is required to file these monthly reports with the National Energy Board since construction began at the terminals, which includes information on safety, environment, security issues, and “non-compliances” that happen during the time period. Reports must also include details about how they resolved the issues and their location.

According to one of these reports, contaminated water held on the tug DB Bremberton was released on March 2 before the company received confirmation the water was safe. Water samples were previously sent to be analyzed at a laboratory in February, and results, also received on March 2, showed it exceeded B.C. environment ministry criteria for discharge. This spill violated a section of the environmental protection plan for the Westridge Marine terminal.

In April, around 200 mL of lubricating oil was spilled on the deck of a barge from an air compressor and, because it was raining, around 10 mL fell from the barge into the ocean. In a second incident, Trans Mountain reported finding sheen on the ocean surface after oily water was splashed from a containment area onto a wood deck.

Ali Hounsell, spokesperson for Trans Mountain, responded to a question about the 12 spills in March, April and May.

“Trans Mountain is committed to the safety of our workers and the environment. We take every incident seriously and undertake transparent and regular reporting of worksite incidents during construction including safety, environmental, security and spills from equipment,” she said in an email sent to the NOW on Saturday. “The reporting also includes measures undertaken to mitigate these incidents, and, where applicable, prevent future incidents from occurring.”

Other incidents not reported to the environment ministry included half a litre of antifreeze spilled onto the pavement from a vehicle belonging to a security guard; and several incidents of up four litres of biodegradable vegetable-based hydraulic fluid and 100 mL of automatic transmission fluid spilled into the ocean.

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