A lack of security at facilities like Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal poses a threat to public safety, says an SFU security expert.
Douglas Ross, of Simon Fraser's political science department, said the ease with which Greenpeace activists occupied the oil terminal last Wednesday illustrates the vulnerability of Canadian industrial sites.
Ross said corporations are unlikely to spend big bucks on security until after an incident takes place.
"Security all around, all the time, is really expensive," said Ross. "Until an incident happens, corporations are unlikely to pay what is necessary to protect highly sensitive sites such as refineries, pipelines - incredibly vulnerable given vast size and mostly in remote locations - chemical storage facilities, or transportation equipment."
While local oil facilities, such as the Chevron refinery and the Trans Mountain pipeline terminus, have been in place since the 1950s, Ross would like to see these kinds of facilities located away from populated areas.
"Pre 9/11, nobody was thinking about home-grown terrorists potentially getting a hold of trucks loaded with explosives, gasoline bombs or things like that to wreak havoc in a facility like that. That's the dilemma," he said.
Governments are also unlikely to spend the kind of money it would take to ensure Canada's infrastructure is secure, according to Ross.
"So unless there's a tremendous amount of local agitation, I don't think you're going to see anything," he said. "I think it's highly unlikely. I guess we'll just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best."
On Wednesday, Oct. 16, Greenpeace succeeded in sending in a team of 16 activists to chain themselves to the Westridge Marine Terminal's front gates and pumping equipment without any interference from facility security.
As a result of the incident, Kinder Morgan has launched a review of its security measures, which should be complete in a couple of weeks.
Many Burnaby residents have expressed concerns over security at the terminal.
Alan Dutton of BROKE said while he has security concerns about the entire Kinder Morgan pipeline system, his main concern is natural disasters.
"We know that the West Coast is due for a major seismic event, ... yet Kinder Morgan is planning to dramatically expand a tank farm on the side of Burnaby Mountain not systematically studied for risk of seismic event," said Dutton.
"It makes no sense whatsoever to expand a tank farm on the side of a mountain in a seismically active area or to try to push big oil tankers through Second Narrows, or building a new pipeline through residential areas near schools and licensed daycares. It's a bad idea from start to finish."
Meanwhile, the RCMP investigation into the Greenpeace seizure of the terminal is ongoing and it's too early to say if charges will be laid against 16 activists.
RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Peter Thiessen said a team of investigators is still going over the evidence to see whether charges should recommended to the Crown counsel. As of Thursday, none of the activists have been charged, according to Greenpeace.
© Copyright 2013