Oil from a Kinder Morgan marine spill could foul Vancouver beaches within 24 hours

In response to Kinder Morgan’s application to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline, filed Monday with the National Energy Board, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) have published initial results from a research project to map the potential spread of an oil spill along the Kinder Morgan tanker route.

The study released wooden drift cards representing oil at locations on the tanker route that are at higher risk of an incident, corresponding to potential spill sites identified in Kinder Morgan’s Monday application. The study reveals how far and fast oil could travel from these spill sites, and what kind of valuable areas could be affected. Initial drift card recovery findings indicate:

  • Oil spills in Vancouver Harbour could cover Stanley Park, Jericho Beach, Kitsilano Beach, False Creek, Iona Beach and the North Shore from Ambleside Park to Lighthouse Park, within 24-48 hours.
  • Oil could travel from the mouth of the Fraser River to Victoria in 4 days.
  • Oil from a spill off the Greater Vancouver coast could reach Tofino (a distance of 300 km) in 3 weeks.

Kinder Morgan’s application recognizes English Bay as a site for potential incidents but then dismisses it as a possible spill location “due to relatively low frequency for an accidental oil cargo spill”.

Kinder Morgan also indicates that a spill at Arachne Reef, adjacent to Sidney, could oil 427 km of beach. The Raincoast and GSA drift card study also modelled a spill with drift cards at Turn Point, effectively the same location.

Raincoast biologist and drift card project coordinator Andy Rosenberger said, “The cards that we released at Turn Point off Sidney showed similar initial movement to that indicated in Kinder Morgan’s application, however over time they travelled much further than in the company’s study: to the east coast of Orcas Island, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. Unfortunately real oil can’t simply be picked up the way our drift cards can, and the study clearly shows that much of the Salish Sea region is at risk.”

Alexandra Woodsworth, of Georgia Strait Alliance said, “Kinder Morgan’s application brings the threat of a catastrophic oil spill one step closer to reality. But even without a spill, the company has admitted that the impacts of routine tanker traffic on our Southern Resident killer whales will be ‘high magnitude, high probability and significant.’ This project could mean the loss of our Southern Residents, which the government is legally obligated to protect. We have to say ‘no’ to Kinder Morgan.”


Interview contacts

Raincoast Conservation Foundation
Andy Rosenberger
Tel:  250-889-2830     E: andy@raincoast.org


Georgia Strait Alliance
Alexandra Woodsworth
Tel:  778-316-5558     E: alexandra@georgiastrait.org