September 19, 2018 6:48 pm
Updated: September 21, 2018 8:44 am

Trans Mountain conducts emergency oil spill exercise on Burrard Inlet

WATCH ABOVE: Trans Mountain is practicing its response to the kind of environmental disaster critics of the pipeline project are worried about. Grace Ke reports.

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Trans Mountain held a drill on Wednesday to test the emergency response time if a pipeline leak spilled oil into the Burrard Inlet.

The drill simulated a rupture near the Burnaby Westridge Marine Terminal and Burrard Inlet.

READ MORE: Kinder Morgan moving to suspend construction on Trans Mountain pipeline project following ruling


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Oil spill response crews from Trans Mountain, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), Environment Canada and First Nations conducted the full-scale exercise that consisted of water-based response activities, equipment deployment and offsite incident command.

The exercise examined the protocol in place if 160 tonnes of product containing bitumen spilled into the inlet at various locations.

WCMRC communication manager Michael Lowry said the response time on Wednesday was about an hour.

The agency has developed an enhancement program with Trans Mountain, which would reduce the response time.

“With the enhancement in place, we expect a half hour to respond,” Lowry added.

Coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Globalnews.ca

Vice-president of operations for Trans Mountain, Michael Davies, said the $150 million enhancement response program would add five to seven new bases and 120 new full-time staff to double the response capacity.

Trans Mountain conducted 20 emergency response exercises in 2017 and performs a full-scale exercise every three years at Westridge, while Western Canada Marine Response Corporation does the similar practice once a year.

“It provides an opportunity for us to improve our plan, a lot of learning that comes out of the day,” Davies said.

The exercise also included looking at protection strategies around the harbor. The agencies identified sensitive regions near the area, which include the Maplewood Mud Flats, Cates Park, Belcarra, and Barnet Marine Park.

READ MORE: Keith Baldrey: Don’t celebrate just yet over Trans Mountain pipeline ruling

In late August, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

In a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges, the court says the National Energy Board’s review of the proposal was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.

The court also concluded that the federal government failed in its duty to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations before giving the project the green light.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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