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Spill modelling shows up to 90 per cent of oil could wash up on shores

May 15 2015

“This new report outlines the alarming consequences for local wildlife and ecosystems in the event of a major oil spill in Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, or the Fraser River Estuary,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson

Vancouver City Hall

In response to Kinder Morgan’s failure to carry out analysis of the potential consequences of an oil spill, the City of Vancouver, City of Burnaby, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation conducted an independent oil spill trajectory modelling of four major oil spill scenarios in the Burrard Inlet.

The modelling, done by Genwest Systems Inc, found that a spill in Burrard Inlet would quickly impact nearly all communities surrounding the Inlet.

In all modeling scenarios, between 50 per cent and 90 per cent of the oil would reach the shorelines within hours, causing significant impacts to human health, the environment and the economy.

Oil spill animation and maps available

The model is based on a 16 million litre oil spill, roughly 20 per cent of the amount of oil in each tanker that leaves Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal.

View an animation and maps of an oil spill scenario for the First Narrows in English Bay.

Oil spills, at the Second Narrows and at Kinder Morgan Westridge terminal have also been modelled.

Consequences 'alarming'

“This new report outlines the alarming consequences for local wildlife and ecosystems in the event of a major oil spill in Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, or the Fraser River Estuary,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We continue to hear from residents that the Kinder Morgan proposal poses far too great a risk to our local economy and environment, and evidence such as this study highlights the need for the City of Vancouver to continue our opposition to a seven-fold increase of oil tanker traffic in our local waters.”

“Of the many severe risks posed by the proposed Kinder Morgan expansion, the potential for spills in Burrard Inlet has always been a huge concern for the City of Burnaby,” says Burnaby mayor, Derek Corrigan. “Though the pipeline would end in Burnaby, the risks clearly would extend far beyond Burnaby’s boundaries to all of the municipalities bordering Burrard Inlet – and ultimately to all those who use, value and benefit from our thriving harbor and the innumerable economic, environmental and recreational benefits it provides. This report illustrates why the project Kinder Morgan is proposing can never be allowed on our coast.”

“The model demonstrates that nowhere is safe in Burrard Inlet,” says Tsleil-Waututh Chief Maureen Thomas. “Spilled oil has the potential to foul every corner of our inlet leaving only a legacy of more pollution for our children and spoiling everything Tsleil-Waututh holds as sacred.”

2D oil spill model used to illustrate scenario

Genwest used GNOME, a 2D oil spill model, to show the probability of oil being present at specific locations along Burrard Inlet.

In this scenario, each dot in the animation represents 2,000 litres of oil.

The unconfirmed estimate volume of oil in the recent fuel oil spill in English Bay was 2,700 litres – slightly more than the volume one dot represents in the animation video. 

Proposed expansion would triple Trans Mountain Pipeline capacity

Kinder Morgan Canada applied to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline system to triple its capacity. This would increase the number of full tankers in Burrard Inlet from 5 to 34 per month.

The City of Vancouver, the City of Burnaby, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation are intervenors in the NEB hearing process and will be filing their written evidence to the NEB on May 27, 2015.

The City and other intervenors have previously expressed disappointment about the failure of Kinder Morgan Canada to provide adequate answers to their questions. This includes concerns about Kinder Morgan Canada not disclosing details of their Emergency Preparedness and Response plans – an issue that the Province raised with the NEB.

City to publicly file evidence with the NEB

In the event of a large spill, such as the one modeled at First Narrows, the City has concerns that the Emergency Response plans may not be adequate. The City will publicly file evidence with the NEB that details some of the risks and consequences of a major oil spill. 

Public input wanted

The cities of Vancouver and Burnaby continue to collect people’s questions and concerns about the proposal, helping to inform the cities’ processes and ensure that all voices are heard.

You are encouraged to:

Learn more and read the full report

Read the full report

NEB evidence library

View the evidence we are submitting to the National Energy Board on the potential affects and risks of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.