May 27, 2014 9:06 pm

Burnaby firefighters worry tank farm expansion could endanger lives

There are serious safety concerns being raised over Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans for its tank storage facility on Burnaby Mountain.

The Burnaby Fire Department says increased capacity at the tank farm could increase the risk of an uncontrollable disaster.

The proposed expansion is part of Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Currently, there are 13 oil tanks on the south slope of Burnaby Mountain. The expansion would add 14 more.

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But the Burnaby Fire Department says the risk of a catastrophe is far too high.

“We oppose the densification of the tank farm, especially with the position, where the tank farm sits elevated on Burnaby Mountain,” says Deputy Fire Chief Chris Bowcock. “There is an elementary school in close proximity.”

Bowcock worries the containers would be placed too close together, and if a fire starts in one, it would easily spread to another.

“The risk scenario that we are most worried about is a tank farm fire, that is uncontrolled or where the response from Kinder Morgan is not prompt enough, to be able to extinguish early.”

Residents living nearby worry they could see a repeat of the oil spill that forced hundreds of people from their homes in 2007.

They are also worried something like the Lac Megantic disaster could occur.

The Kinder Morgan proposal calls for six new tanks to be built less than a kilometre from Forest Grove Elementary.

Kinder Morgan says it has operated safely in the neighbourhood for 60 years, and will consult with the Fire Department before finalizing plans.

“Plans are preliminary in nature and we will be doing everything we can in our final design to mitigate any risks,” says Hugh Harden of Kinder Morgan. “The safety of the people of Burnaby is our number one concern.”

Hearings into the proposal begin in August. If approved, construction could begin as early as next year.

– with files from Tanya Beja

 

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