July 26 - Vancouver Sun

Kinder Morgan says it will cover cleanup costs for 11 oil-soaked homes
Jack Keating, Laura Payton and Frank Luba, The ProvincePublished: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kinder Morgan promised yesterday to pay every nickel of cleanup costs for residents in 11 oil-soaked and spattered homes in Burnaby.

The company will reimburse residents for "any expenses incurred because of the incident," including hotels and meals, said Kinder Morgan spokesman Philippe Reicher.

"In some cases they can even call us and we can even put it on our credit card and pay it in advance," he said.

Crews continue cleanup operations yesterday in the wake of Tuesday's crude-oil spill that flowed into Burrard Inlet. 
Crews continue cleanup operations yesterday in the wake of Tuesday's crude-oil spill that flowed into Burrard Inlet.
Arlen Redekop, The Province

One of the residents, Deb Crouch, said company representative Bob Love came by her home on Tuesday night and encouraged her family to go to a hotel.

"The Kinder Morgan fellow says they're going to go around and assess," said Crouch.

"[He] said, 'Just send me the bill.'"

The company told residents it has a substance that is sprayed on to homes and then washed off with water to remove the oil.

"I'll believe it when I see it," said Crouch. "In the meantime, what do we do with our oily tomatoes and oily corn?"

Kinder Morgan estimated 234,000 litres of light crude oil spilled on Tuesday when its pipeline was broken by an excavator doing sewer work for the city of Burnaby at Ridge and Inlet drives.

"If Kinder Morgan is found to have failed in any way in doing what they were supposed to do to ensure the safety of the public and to avoid environmental damage then we're going to be looking very carefully at Kinder Morgan and their performance," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

"Our procedures and protocol require not only reliance on the map but that Kinder Morgan come out to the site and make sure the map is correct."

"Right now it is obvious that it is the result of human error. There was something wrong with the map that was used but there was also human error in the fact that it wasn't identified.

"There's issues about how long it took to get the pipeline turned off and whether it could have been done quicker and issues about how long it took booms to get into the water to ensure oil didn't spread into the inlet."

Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said the company is not responsible for the pipeline maps they use.

"These maps are not maps that have been developed since Kinder Morgan [took over the pipeline], they've been in our possession for a good period of time, since the pipeline was installed."

He said Kinder Morgan is co-ordinating the cleanup.

"We are taking full responsibility for that cleanup effort," he said. "The investigation at the end of the day will determine cause. At this point, our focus is not on blame, our focus is on cleanup, communication with the residents, making it as easy for them to get information as possible."

About 80 people were working on the cleanup, on land and water.

Premier Gordon Campbell and federal Environment Minister John Baird toured the site yesterday and both said "the polluter pays."

The spill occurred about

12:35 p.m. Vancouver Port Authority spokeswoman Ann McMullin said the port was informed at 1 p.m.

The port called marine cleanup company Burrard Clean. Oil was seen on the water at 1:50 p.m. and Burrard Clean arrived at 2:25 p.m.

Barnet Highway was closed yesterday from Hastings Street in Burnaby to Port Moody. One westbound lane is expected to open this morning.

Burnaby spokeswoman Susan Rae said 81 adults and 16 children in 31 families were evacuated. Some were back in their homes last night.

Homeowner insurance may cover damage to homes but Lindsay Olson of the Insurance Bureau of Canada said it's unlikely to pay landscaping costs.

"It's important to contact your insurance professional and see if there is coverage there," said Olson.

The Provincial Emergency Program covers two nights of accommodation for people evacuated but after that people are on their own.

Simon Fraser University earth sciences Prof. Dirk Kirste said it's important to clean up an oil spill as quickly as possible.

"The longer it can sit somewhere it can penetrate into the system, the bigger the problem," said Kirste.

Crude oil "has within it a wide range of different organic molecules and some of those molecules have been shown to act as a carcinogen," said Kirste, citing benzene as an example. There are also trace metals "that can be toxic."


Animals that could be affected include:

- Birds such as Canada geese, cormorants, bald eagles, blue herons and seagulls.

- Marine mammals like harbour seals, sea otters, sea lions and harbour porpoises

- Pets and urban wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels and skunks.

"Even a dime's worth of oil on feathers will break it down," said Janice Dickie of Wildlife Rescue.

"Water will seep in and the birds can no longer keep warm."

Inhalation and ingestion is also a serious concern, said Martin Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium.

"Animals affected by oil in the past have long-term liver problems, pulmonary problems and also reproductive problems," he said.

"We are still seeing the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill today."

Call 604-258-SEAL if you see seals or otters in distress, or 604-526-7275 for birds or other animals.