Parkland refinery holds Tuesday info session for Burnaby residents after January incident

Click to play video: 'Burnaby firefighters at Parkland Refinery for vapour discharge'
Burnaby firefighters at Parkland Refinery for vapour discharge
WATCH: Firefighters said the refinery had a vapour discharge, which is part of a maintenance operation, and are on scene as a precaution – Jan 21, 2024

Nearly a month after an incident at Burnaby’s Parkland refinery caused a foul stench to waft across Metro Vancouver, the company that operates has held an open house for residents.

The incident happened Jan. 21, as crews were working to restart the facility after a shutdown due to unseasonably cold temperatures.

It prompted Metro Vancouver to issue an air quality bulletin across its northwest and northeast regions, and the deployment of Burnaby firefighters who spent six hours on standby outside the facility.

Click to play video: 'Burnaby refinery problems will boost gas prices'
Burnaby refinery problems will boost gas prices

In the wake of the incident, Parkland faced criticism from some residents and Burnaby’s mayor and council for what they said was a lack of transparency about the incident.

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On Tuesday, Parkland Refinery plant manager Alex Coles said the company has learned from the experience.

“We are a learning organization, and one of the things we have learned from this process is we can do better about getting out in front of the community, and tonight’s event is really part of the recognition of that,” Coles said, pledging more proactive communication with neighbours.

Tuesday’s community information session is being held at 5:30 p.m. at the Executive Suites Hotel and Conference Centre.

Coles said experts were on hand to help explain what the Parkland refinery does, what steps it is taking to restart the facility, what went wrong on Jan. 21, and to answer any questions.

Michele Joel, a neighbour who sits on a community advisory panel that brings feedback to Parkland, was among those who attended Tuesday’s event.

“Over the past few years we’ve had a lot of incidents happen, not quite at this level, but accidents that happen, black smoke that’s spewed into the community, this one happened and we were a little bit taken by surprise because we weren’t notified right away,” she said.

Joel said the company has generally been good at keeping neighbours informed about what is going on, but wanted assurances there would be better communication next time.

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Neighbour Steve Dunbar commended the company for holding the event, adding he was OK with the amount of time it took Parkland to inform the public about what happened on Jan. 21.

“I really do believe Parkland behaved in an appropriate manner and informed us of the problem afterwards,” he said.

“I was satisfied with the answers.”

Coles told Global News the Jan. 21 incident was the result of a “plugged line” during the restart process that ultimately led to the unplanned release of emissions.

“The plume was comprised of steam, byproducts of combustion, as well as particulate,” he said. “At no time during the event were the air quality standards exceeded.”

Click to play video: 'Foul odour could return as Burnaby refinery conducts restart'
Foul odour could return as Burnaby refinery conducts restart

The company is currently conducting an internal investigation into what went wrong, he said, the results of which will be made public.

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In January, Burnaby city council passed a motion calling for provincial regulators to conduct an independent investigation into the incident.

The city is also seeking to recoup about $30,000 from Parkland to cover the cost of police and firefighters’ response on Jan. 21.

At the end of January, Parkland said the facility would be shut down for about four weeks for maintenance. On Tuesday it said that work was continuing as scheduled.

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