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State demands spill response details for Whatcom portion of Trans Mountain Pipeline

An oil tanker is moored at Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, in May, 2018.  On Monday, the Washington Department of Ecology announced it has directed the operator of the Trans Mountain Pipeline to “correct deficiencies in critical areas of the oil spill contingency plan for its 64-mile expanse of the pipeline that operates in Washington.”
An oil tanker is moored at Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain marine terminal in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, in May, 2018. On Monday, the Washington Department of Ecology announced it has directed the operator of the Trans Mountain Pipeline to “correct deficiencies in critical areas of the oil spill contingency plan for its 64-mile expanse of the pipeline that operates in Washington.” The Canadian Press via AP

State officials are not satisfied with the oil spill contingency plan for the Trans Mountain Pipeline that partly operates in Washington.

The state Department of Ecology has asked the Canadian government to add more details for the 64-mile expanse that goes through northern Whatcom County, providing crude oil to the refineries in Ferndale and Anacortes.

According to a news release from Ecology, more details are needed on how the Canadian government would respond, including the initial steps after a spill is discovered and if the oil were to spill into the ocean and sink to the seafloor. Ecology also wants details on what impact oil spills would have on orca whales, salmon and other natural resources.

The Canadian government recently purchased the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, but has for now halted an expansion project that would nearly triple the amount of oil sent to the Pacific Coast from Alberta.

“We expect Canada to adhere to the high standards Washington has worked so hard to achieve that protect our environment, economy and the health of our communities,” said Dale Jensen, manager of Ecology’s spill prevention and response program, in the news release.

During the public review of the plan, Ecology received 14,000 public comments, with all opposing the lack of details, according to the news release.

The Washington state portion of the pipeline is currently covered under a plan Ecology approved in January 2014. The agency is confident Canada will be able to address the changes needed for this plan in the next 60 days, Sandy Howard, a communications manager for Ecology, told The Bellingham Herald in an email.

In 2017, the Trans Mountain Pipeline carried 2.6 billion gallons of crude oil to the four refineries in Ferndale and Anacortes.

If Canada decides to reopen expansion plans for the pipeline in Washington, there would be a public process that would take place, Howard said.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz
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