Trans Mountain says pipeline has restarted after crude oil spill in Abbotsford

Trans Mountain says its pipeline has restarted after as much as 1,195 barrels (190,000 litres) of light crude spilled from its pipeline pumping station in Abbotsford, B.C.

While an investigation is ongoing, the Crown-owned company said in a statement the cause of the spill appears to be related to a fitting on a 2.5-centimetre piece of pipe.

The statement said the pipeline restarted on Sunday afternoon after all safety protocols were completed.

It said the spill was fully contained on Trans Mountain property, the free-standing oil has been recovered and it will be disposed of at an approved facility.

Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver said the spill happened just south of the Lightning Rock site, a cultural and burial ground of great significance to their people.

He said it’s the fourth time in 15 years that there has been a spill from the pipeline on their land.

“Our main concern is for the cleanup of this spill and preventing further impacts to our territory. We need to have our monitors on the ground immediately.”

Silver was allowed to tour the site around the spill about 12 hours after cleanup began.

“I can still taste the oil, from smelling it,” he said in an interview with CBC News later Sunday.

Cattle graze in a field neighbouring the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, B.C., on June 14. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Trans Mountain said the site has permanent air and groundwater monitoring in place there’s no indication of a risk to the public or community.

“An Incident Command Post remains active and the company continues to work with local authorities, area Indigenous groups and regulators, including the Canada Energy Regulator, Transportation Safety Board and B.C. Ministry of Environment, in the oversight and cleanup of this incident,” the company said in a statement.

Silver said the spill site is “very close” to the Sumas River and other interconnected, fish-inhabited waterways.

“I haven’t been very satisfied with the communication … our technicians are really concerned about the monitoring or lack of monitoring from the get-go,” Silver said of Trans Mountain.

“I’m really concerned about openness, about transparency.”

A spokesman for Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan said the department is “monitoring the situation closely.”

The pipeline was shut early Saturday when an alarm was received about the spill at the station in the Fraser Valley, not far from the U.S. border.

The pipeline moves about 300,000 barrels of crude a day between Alberta and B.C.’s waterfront terminal in Burnaby.

The federal government approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline last June, which would see crude capacity triple.

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