Concern over potential slow response time at Burnaby crude oil storage facility

A recently disclosed fire protection audit report on the Burnaby, British Columbia crude oil storage terminal has raised concerns of local politicians and residents.  The facility is owned by TransMountain Pipeline.  The report estimates that the planned response time to a major event, such as a serious spill or fire, at six hours.

The Burnaby storage terminal is the end point of the Trans Mountain Pipeline System. It is a distribution point for crude oil and refined products to local terminals – the Parkland refinery and the Westridge Marine Terminal. The Burnaby terminal currently has 13 tanks with a combined storage capacity of 1.6-m bbl with secondary and tertiary containment.

The fire protection audit was commissioned by the National Energy Board (now the Canadian Energy Regulator [CER]) in 2016.  The audit was conducted by PLC Fire Safety Solutions, a company provide quality fire safety engineering services.

In May, the National Energy Board (now the CER) issued a report on Trans Mountain’s fire preparedness at three oil terminals in Burnaby, B.C., and Edmonton, Alberta. The CER report notes that TransMountain’s response time goal for assembling staff and contractors to initiate the fire fighting activities as six hours.  In its report, it states the TransMountain reduce the response time to four hours.

The PLC Safety Solutions report on the Burnaby terminal concluded in the emergency response plans were generally in compliance, but it raised questions about the time and manner in which the company’s own firefighting team could respond.

“Since there is currently no mutual aid agreement with the Burnaby Fire Department, initial response will be limited and response time could be six hours,” concludes the report.

The fire protection audit report was recently made public after the local Member of Parliament filed a Freedom of Information request.  In response to the report being made public and the  Since the report was prepared, the Canadian Energy Regulator has stated that the response time has been reduced to four hours.

TransMountain Pipeline issued a news release in response to the report’s finding being made public, stating, “At our terminals, we are ready to respond immediately with people and equipment. Trans Mountain has mutual aid agreements in place with other industrial operators in the areas where we operate, and contracts with response companies to provide fire responders to the terminals.”

The Burnaby crude oil storage terminal has been in operation for more than 65 years.  There has never been a storage tank fire.