Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: oil spill

oil spill

For over a week now, we've been appalled over an environmental disaster that occurred in the Greater Vancouver area. Last Tuesday, July 24th, there was a huge oil spill in Burnaby, a suburb just east of Vancouver, on the south side of Burrard Inlet. Contractors doing sewer work hit a pipeline and a 12 meter geyser of crude oil sprayed roads, cars and homes and spilled into the ocean waters nearby. This is part of Kinder Morgan Canada's TransMountain Pipeline system, carrying crude oil from a pipeline terminal at the foot of Burnaby Mountain to a tanker-loading facility on the Inlet. (Can you see the oil tanks in the top photo below? - the disaster happened in the area to the left of them.)

Naturally this raised concerns for the health impacts on the residents and homes and environment in the immediate vicinity. Numerous concerns about the industry have also come up again for all of BC and its coastal waters.

Living on the other side of Burrard Inlet not far from the spill, we were worried about reports that the oil spill spread to North Shore beaches and parks, affecting marine life, First Nations' clam beds, and the Maplewood Mud Flats, a local saltmarsh and bird sanctuary.




Last Friday evening right after sunset, we went on one of our regular walks to Cates Park, situated right across the water from the disaster area. We checked out the beaches and its families of Canada geese. Though there was yellow tape tied across the beaches and posted warnings to stay off, our untrained eyes could not spot any evidence of oil. Looked like the cleanup crews had done a good job here and will continue to be busy for a while in many spots on this coast. Several families in Burnaby in the meantime are still dealing with the damage to their homes and gardens - what a terrifying experience. When it comes this close to home...


Marja-Leena | 31/07/2007 | 12 comments
themes: Canada and BC, Current Events, Environment


Ach, how awful. I hope they're able to clean it up well.

I was very interested to find this here, ML. We had seen a brief item on the news about it, but didn't really know how serious it was. We were talking with our friends who are moving back to Vancouver about it, but they had heard nothing, and were going to ask their son who lives there about it. So I'll give them a link to this.
Thanks for the information.

Another environmental disaster that will have a long-term affect on the greater Vancouver area. Those of us who know of Kinder Morgan's poor track-record of environmental due diligence and stewardship, also know that they always seem to shift the blame to someone else. The B.C. Government should slap them with a hefty fine but I doubt this will happen. Perhaps David Susuki will offer up a comment! Meanwhile, the damage has been done, but lets hope the clean-up goes well ML!!

Leslee, I hope so too, but what I've read is that harmful traces do linger for decades in the marine environment.

Lucy, how interesting! If your friends want to keep up with local news, CBC BC is quite good as well as some of the papers I linked to in this article.

Roger - Yes, we became very aware of KM's record this past week during all the 'finding blame'. Investigations continue but I'm not hopeful. What I don't understand is that if this map of the pipeline is correct, why did the break occur at the dig some 3 to 9 (reports vary) metres away!?? Today's Sun reports that now they are trying to blame the contractor.

Everywhere is our back yard. This oil spill affects us all.

Absolutely, Peter!

Happens too often, everywhere.

Anna - unfortunately, yes. I guess that's why we get alarmed at more pipelines and more oil tankers on our precious coastal waters.

Yes, I know this sounds like the dumb reply of a country cousin but I shall be rather glad when the oil runs out or we find a healthier and sane aternate to that black poison, whichever comes first. I hope that recovery is as speedy as possible and that the damage is not too severe?

Black gold?
More like Fool's Gold if you ask me!

Mouse, that is NOT the reply of a country cousin at all! I agree with you totally, or I'm a country cousin too. Our whole world has changed since oil, though coal's bad too. I keep saying we should start investing in horses and buggies and convert our garage to a stable.

How awful! It is a good thing that it appears they've done a good job cleaning up the oil before it impacted the environment too much. My home island was hit by the Exxon Valdez oil spill back in 1989. That was my first job as a paralegal - working for a small private law firm in my hometown, representing the class action plaintiffs and collecting insurance claims for the fishermen from Exxon's insurance adjusters. But it was an awful, awful time to live through in Alaska. We lost our salmon & herring fisheries, native peoples were afraid to dig clams or eat any traditional food, and when we took our children for picnics on the beach, even several years later, they would end up with sticky, tar-like crude oil on their feet and clothes that had been buried under rocks and logs.

I am so against opening Alaska's ANWR to more oil drilling. That battle has pitted native peoples against one another - those that stand only to gain money vs those who will lose their livelihoods and traditional lifestyle to more drilling platforms, trucks, pipelines and huge influx of people.

Jackie - Thanks so much for your personal story - I hear you!! I remember that horrific time and I thought of it again when this happened. I've seen some programs about potential oli drilling in ANWR and our BC coast and also feel very much against it. Yes, it's always about money vs traditional lifestyles and a deep care for the environment. I don't believe cleanups can ever be 100%, traces will linger forever. Depressing...