The collapse of the north face of Burnaby Mountain thousands of years ago may have been triggered by seismic movement along a suspected underlying fault.

The collapse of the north face of Burnaby Mountain thousands of years ago may have been triggered by seismic movement along a suspected underlying fault.

Oil pipeline rupture by quake remains a worry

No known active faults but Kinder Morgan to fund more study of seismic risk near Trans Mountain terminal

Kinder Morgan is expected to carry out more research on the potential seismic risk of a quake rupturing its Trans Mountain pipeline and spilling oil into Burrard Inlet.

Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew says a just-completed review of area geologic faults funded by Kinder Morgan is a good start but more work is needed to answer outstanding questions about the danger.

Some geologists in the past have suggested a fault triggered the historic slump of the north face of Burnaby Mountain an estimated 15,000 years ago.

Drew’s nightmare scenario is for some similarly violent seismic event to strike today near the pipeline Kinder Morgan intends to twin and close to the Westridge Marine Terminal, where large amounts of oil is stored in tanks on a hill above the inlet.

“It doesn’t take much land movement to result in a fracture to a hard object like a metal pipe,” Drew said.

Geotechnical consulting firm BGC Engineering reviewed older research and concluded there are no known active faults in the Lower Mainland.

But BGC’s report stresses that doesn’t mean they don’t exist – active faults might merely be undiscovered.

The U.S. has done more to search for seismic trouble spots and surveys there in recent years have revealed active faults within five kilometres of the border.

“It is possible that given comparable research, active faults could be found north of the border,” the report says.

Studies in the 1970s and 1980s flagged several possible faults across Burnaby Mountain as well as around downtown Vancouver and Coal Harbour.

One also suggested an earthquake in 1859 may have turned Stanley Park, previously described as an island, into a peninsula.

BGC found insufficient evidence to determine if the possible faults around Burnaby Mountain are real or active, but it said modern imaging techniques and other geotechnical methods could shed more light.

Kinder Morgan is expected to finance more work as part of its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project, which would nearly triple pipeline capacity to 890,000 barrels per day.

Drew said the findings are important to determine if additional spill safeguards are needed in the area close to Burrard Inlet, including additional automated pipeline shutoff valves that reduce the amount of oil lost in a breach.

He said he finds it “a little bit odd” that in the 60 years the pipeline has operated its owners apparently never investigated potential geologic faults near the terminal that might put it at risk.

The BGC work was conducted after Drew and others first raised questions about seismic risks last fall, in response to the twinning plans.

“The good news is they’re now on the case and investigating,” Drew said.

Kinder Morgan officials said they do take seismic risks into consideration on an ongoing basis and the proposed pipeline twinning will include a thorough geotechnical assessment.

Spokesperson Lisa Clement said additional seismic studies by Kinder Morgan are ongoing and will be filed as part of the Trans Mountain expansion application to the National Energy Board, while additional investigation of risks around Burnaby Mountain will be done during the detailed design phase.

She noted in the 1990s a Lower Mainland geotechnical study prompted the drilling of a new crossing under the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam to protect the pipeline from damage during an earthquake.

Drew is also pushing Kinder Morgan to conduct detailed baseline studies of the aquatic life and habitat found in Burrard Inlet that could be at risk in a spill – a request that has been endorsed by other local councils and Metro Vancouver.

Kinder Morgan oil storage tanks near Westridge Marine Terminal in north Burnaby.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Garry Blanchard of Hope won $77,000 correctly guessing the outcomes of all 13 games of NFL week 17. (Photo/BCLC)
Hope resident rakes in $77,000 in NFL Week 17 bet

Garry Blanchard won the record-breaking prize correctly guessing every outcome that week

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Chilliwack ER doc runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Harrison hoping for $750K to upgrade fire hall

The renovations would include seismic upgrades, changes to social distancing for fire fighters

Keith Carlson, chair and director of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre at Univeristy of the Fraser Valley.
UFV hosts online session about interpersonal violence

Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford holds discussion on Thursday, Jan. 21

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

Most Read