Indigenous groups react to TMX pipeline spill

Jake Cardinal, ANNews


On Saturday June 13, 2020 the Trans Mountain pipeline in Abbotsford, BC spilled an estimated 150,000 litres of crude oil into the environment. In other words, they lost 1,195 barrels.

The pipeline was immediately shut down after the company learned of the spill.

Trans Mountain stated that despite the spill, their environmental monitoring systems detect no threats to any of the inhabitants (wildlife excluded), waterways, or air.

They also said the free-standing oil collected will be sent to an approved facility for disposal.

“Clean-up is well underway with trucks and crews working around the clock,” said Trans Mountain in a statement.

The oil came from a single fitting on a 1 inch diameter piece of pipe connected to the mainline.

B.C’s Ministry of Environment said the spill was “deeply concerning.”

“Our government maintains that the TMX project poses unacceptable risks to our environment, our coast and our economy.

The Ministry of Environment will continue to monitor the situation and ensure all timely, appropriate and adequate response measures are taken,” the Ministry said.

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) released a statement condemning the spill.

Chief Dalton Silver, Sumas First Nation, stated, “Our main concern is for the clean-up of this spill and preventing further impacts to our territory. We need to have our monitors on the ground immediately. We need to understand what is going on from our point of view, how much oil spilled, what has been impacted, and what needs to be done to clean it up. We cannot continue to have our land desecrated by oil spills.”

He said this is the fourth time in 15 years that this pipeline has had a spill on their land.

The proposed Trans Mountain expansion route would see an additional pipeline crossing one of their sacred sites, Lightning Rock, at two spots.

“We will do absolutely everything we can to prevent this from happening- an oil spill at Lighting Rock would be horrific for our people.”

“We conducted our own assessment of Trans Mountain using leading science and Tsleil-Waututh’s Indigenous law that concluded that oil spills are inevitable, can’t be fully cleaned up, and have devastating effects,” said Chief Leah George-Wilson,

Chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “This most recent spill is another reminder that the risk is too great to accept. The Trans

Mountain pipeline has already spilled more than 80 times since it began operating. This is why we continue to fight the Trans Mountain Expansion in the courts.”

The Abbotsford pipeline was said to have restarted on Sunday afternoon after all safety requirements were satisfied.

Jake Cardinal is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter.

Edited for length

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