Chevron workers are removing and replacing a section of thinning pipeline in the 7500 block of Birkdale Place near Burnaby Mountain.
The crude supply line runs oil from Kinder Morgan's tank farm to Burnaby's Chevron refinery.
"It's thinning to the point where we'd like to replace it. This is done by cutting a section of the line out and replacing a five-foot section of it. It's about 12 inches in diameter. The line will be emptied and flushed prior to it being replaced," said company spokesperson Ray Lord.
The line is owned, operated, inspected and maintained by Chevron, he added.
According to Lord, the line has been in service since the 1950s and is inspected regularly. The company used a "smart pig," a high-tech tool that inspects the walls of the pipe for corrosion and thickness, Lord explained, and this particular area had to be replaced.
"It's still safe but it requires replacement," Lord said.
Workers have removed the asphalt and are excavating by hand.
"It's basically a hole in the ground. It looks like a city crew doing work on water," he said.
Lord expects the work to be completed by March 15, and there is equipment on site to minimize any nuisance odors. Besides Chevron's crude line, there is also a Kinder Morgan pipeline and a jet fuel line on Birkdale Place.
"We haven't done this for some time. We haven't replaced a section of the pipe for some years," Lord said.
Chevron hand-delivered a notice to Birkdale Place residents, but Kalpna Solanki, who lives in a block away from the worksite, did not know what was happening and suspected the line had sprung a leak when she noticed the work on Tuesday.
"I see the work going on, and I drive through there, and I'm just a few doors away, and I had no clue what's going on. Neither does my neighbour," she said. "Because there have been leaks in the past, and this whole thing with regards to pipelines is so much in the media right now, they should be a bit more aware of public perception."
Solanki said she would like to see Chevron do a better job of letting the neighbours know what's going on.
"We knew the pipeline was there," she said. "But let's just be good neighbours."