For the second time this month, Kinder Morgan has shut down its Trans Mountain oil pipeline after the discovery of a leak, this time near Hope.
An estimated 20 to 25 barrels seeped from a small defect in the pipeline 40 kilometres east of Hope near Highway 5, company officials said Thursday.
Crews were expected to finish repairing the pipe and removing contaminated soil late Thursday, allowing the pipeline to reopen.
“There was no risk to human health or safety and there was no product that was identified in waterways and no wildlife has been affected,” Kinder Morgan Canada spokesman Andrew Galarnyk said.
Kinder Morgan detected what it called “a small amount of petroleum product in the soil around the pipe” after performing a routine investigative dig on a section of the pipeline that had been flagged for an integrity check.
The pipeline was shut down Wednesday after the leak was discovered and Kinder Morgan notified the National Energy Board.
The pipeline carries various petroleum products – including regular crude oil, heavy diluted bitumen from the oil sands and refined gasoline – but Galarnyk wasn’t yet able to say for sure what material leaked or for how long.
The latest incident comes just two weeks after the company halted the flow of oil in the pipeline on June 12 to repair a leaking section near Merritt. About six barrels of oil is said to have gradually seeped out there but did not enter any water courses.
Both leaks were discovered through the use of monitoring devices that move through the pipeline in search of anomalies.
“That’s the whole idea behind integrity programs,” Galarnyk said. “We are running these tools and when they do identify things that we need to look at further, we make sure we get those into priority sequence to address them.”
Black Press asked exactly when instruments detected the anomalies at each of the two leak sites – in other words how much time elapsed between a potential problem first being red-flagged and crews arriving to investigate and take action.
Galarnyk said he did not have that information at hand and would have to “see what we can provide.”
Kinder Morgan is conducting an open house today in Burnaby to unveil the probable route of its proposed pipeline expansion through that community.
The company is proposing to twin the line that diagonals southwest from northern Alberta to the Lower Mainland.
The $5.4-billion project would triple Trans Mountain’s capacity to 890,000 barrels per day and result in a huge increase to about 400 oil tankers per year transiting Burrard Inlet.
The National Energy Board says it has deployed its Emergency Response Team to monitor and assess the company’s response, investigation and cleanup.
The NEB said it will investigate both the Hope and Merritt leaks to determine whether they are isolated incidents or share similarities.
Groups opposing the pipeline twinning said problems seem to be happening with alarming frequency.
“It’s a very small leak and it’s only one of the 80 some odd we’ve had in the lifespan of the pipeline,” said Michael Hale of the Pipe Up network. “But it sends the message we’re going to have leaks and spills.”
He questioned why the region should take on the risk of heavy bitumen escaping.
“Every time there is a leak from a pipeline, no matter how large, it is damaging to the environment,” said Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Maureen Thomas in North Vancouver. “Kinder Morgan says it’s using the latest and best technology. But the truth is they can’t eliminate the risk.”
– Jeff Nagel