VANCOUVER – Sunday’s crude oil spill from the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a stark reminder that accidents are bound to occur with this type of fossil fuel infrastructure. The spill leaked 1,195 barrels (up to 190,000 litres) of oil just south of the Lightning Rock site. As much as five large trucks would be required to transport the equivalent amount of crude oil.
“As long as Canada continues to transport oil, spills will happen – and they will always create the risk of detrimental impacts on nature and people,” David Suzuki Foundation director general for Western Canada Jay Ritchlin said. “We need to rapidly pursue a just transition away from this toxic and outdated fuel, so we can protect wildlife like salmon and orca, combat the climate crisis and maintain the well-being of our communities.”
Oil spills affect people and nature. The spill site is near a cultural site and burial grounds of the Sema:th First Nation and Stό:lō Coast Salish Peoples.
“It is unacceptable that Sema:th First Nation’s monitors were not cleared to access the spill site for 12 hours after the accident,” Ritchlin said. “At a minimum, we need full transparency and inclusion of Indigenous nations when any spill occurs. They need to have continuous access to monitoring stations and the ability to see with their own eyes what has occurred on their unceded territory. This is a key part of reconciliation and environmental justice.”
Trans Mountain has reported approximately 84 spills since 1961 – more than one accident per year. Every oil spill is different, but they are united by the damage they can inflict on nature and human health. Oil can linger in the environment and spills do not necessarily stay put. They can move through the soil and contaminate groundwater or evaporate, sending toxic chemicals into the air.
In this case, the oil flowed to an adjacent field owned by Trans Mountain and leased for agricultural uses. The company’s on-site monitoring has not indicated an immediate threat; provincial authorities need to confirm that assessment.
“It’s concerning that the spill occurred where a lake used to exist and where the groundwater is a local potable water source,” Ritchlin said.
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Olga Shuvalova, David Suzuki Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 514-569-6496