Dozens of homes evacuated after road crew ruptures pipeline
KRISTEN THOMPSON/FOR METRO VANCOUVER
When Najuli Jessa saw a geyser-like column of oil filling the view outside the window of her Burnaby bedroom, her first thought was, “We’re rich!”
But when she caught a whiff of the oil, she said she realized the situation was serious.
“We were very worried when we smelled (the oil),” said Jessa, a resident of one of roughly 30 North Burnaby homes evacuated yesterday afternoon when road crews ruptured a nearby pipeline.
“Our house is OK, but we were worried about a fire. ... It was just as if it was in our backyard.”
The oil spill started when an excavator working on Inlet Drive near Barnet Highway and Hastings Street clipped a pipeline.
A plume shot into the air for about half an hour before the rupture was plugged, coating nearby trees, road signs, homes and lawns with slick, shiny black oil.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said cleanup response was as immediate as possible, but oil made its way into storm sewers and from there into Burrard Inlet.
“We feel we are in control of the situation at this point,” said Corrigan. “It will have some impact on the environment.”
Corrigan said the city road crew was working off information that indicated the pipeline wasn’t there.
“According to drawings there wasn’t any possibility of connecting with the pipeline,” he said. “Obviously we’re going to have a long, hard look at the procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again. ... It’s very inconvenient, but it was an accident.”
He said that authorities still aren’t certain exactly how much oil was lost.
The broken line delivers oil from tankers to a tank farm on nearby Burnaby Mountain owned by pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP.
Residents of evacuated homes have been taken to Confederation Community Centre and from there will be put up in hotels.