Oil spill would be “devastating” to birds in Burrard Inlet, biologist says

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One drop of oil can break down a bird’s waterproofing. Accordingly, Kinder Morgan’s proposal to twin its Trans Mountain pipeline and increase tanker traffic in Vancouver Harbour is a “huge” concern to biologist Robyn Worcester.

The conservation programs manager for the Stanley Park Ecology Society told the Georgia Straight that once-prominent seabird species such as the common loon, pigeon guillemot, and western grebe are already on the decline in Burrard Inlet.

“These are all winter birds,” Worcester said by phone from her Vancouver home. “If they lose their waterproofing, they could get cold and die very quickly. So a large-scale spill would be devastating. There’s lots of evidence to show that this kind of spill would last a very long time.”

Together with Karen Barry of Bird Studies Canada, Worcester will give a lecture tonight (May 6) about the state of marine birds in Burrard Inlet, as part of Vancouver Bird Week. She noted that English Bay and Burrard Inlet are designated as an important bird area.

According to Worcester, more seabird species have seen decreases rather than increases in their local populations over the past few decades. Particularly, species that feed on small fish have suffered the most pronounced declines.

“That’s concerning, and I think we all have a responsibility to help protect the animals that share the water that we also depend on,” Worcester said.

Worcester noted that threats to birds in Burrard Inlet range from large-scale (climate change, ocean acidification, and overfishing) to small-scale (off-leash dogs and standup paddleboarders).

SPES is set to participate as an intervenor in the National Energy Board’s upcoming public hearing on the Trans Mountain expansion project. Worcester stressed that a major oil spill in Burrard Inlet would “severely” impact seabirds.

“Their food source would be destroyed, their habit would be destroyed, and obviously birds that were directly affected would also be killed,” Worcester said.

Comments (5) Add New Comment
carrottop
We already have a KM pipeline into Burnaby and tankers that go in and out of Burrard Inlet from the refinery in Burnaby. When was the last recorded spill? What was the impact to fish and bird and nature in general?
How about some facts in that regard? Can't remember the last time I heard about a spill into Burrard Inlet.
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Miranda Nelson
July 15, 2005: About 210,000 litres of crude were released into the area surrounding the company's Sumas Mountain storage facility in Abbotsford, making its way into Kilgard Creek.

July 24, 2007: An oil spill occurred along the Kinder Morgan pipeline in Burnaby when a construction crew inadvertently hit the unmarked pipe with an excavator. Almost 250,000 litres (about 1500 barrels) of oil shot out of the ground, soaking a residential neighbourhood and seeping into the Burrard Inlet. At least 50 homes had to be evacuated. (Click to view the BC Ministry of Environment Incident Report)

May 6, 2009: A sizeable spill was discovered at the company's Burnaby Mountain tank farm, with almost 200,000 litres leaking out into the facility.
January 24, 2012: A pipeline rupture at the Sumas Mountain tank farm spilled an estimated 110,000 litres of oil. Local residents reported health problems including nausea, headaches and fatigue, and schoolchildren were kept indoors for fear of airborne toxins.

April 3, 2012: Another spill in a "containment area" at the Abbotsford Sumas Mountain facility caused nuisance odors and air quality concerns in surrounding communities.

June 12, 2013: A leak was discovered on the Kinder Morgan pipeline near Merritt, BC.

June 26, 2013: Just two weeks after the spill near Merritt, yet another leak was discovered – this time spilling up to 4,000 litres of oil at a site near the Coquihalla Summit, about 40 km east of Hope, BC.

From https://wildernesscommittee.org/frequently_asked_questions_regarding_the...
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Stephen Hui
Remember the 2007 gusher in Burnaby? That was a Kinder Morgan pipeline.

"Some 210,000 litres were later recovered from Burrard Inlet, into which the oil flowed through the Burnaby storm-sewer system."

See: http://www.straight.com/article-206651/report-blames-gusher-pipeline-ope...
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Lee L
OK Carrot Top.. maybe a BETTER question for Miranda and Stephen Hui is...

When is the last time you rode in a car,rode ina bus, used an airplane or ate food that was transported from farms by bike?
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Kathleen
If you build it, they will come... Unless we look for alternatives to oil, people will continue to use it. Why stick with the status quo? Why be content to risk catastophic oil spills?
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