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Kinder Morgan ordered to pay $150,000 in Burnaby oil spill

Provincial Court Judge C.

Provincial Court Judge C. Bagnall ruled a series of small errors led to the spill, but also said the companies involved did not show negligence in introducing 224,000 litres of albian heavy synthetic crude oil to Burnaby's Westridge neighbourhood and Burrard Inlet.

Around 210,000 litres of the thick, toxic, and pungent black goo were recovered following a months-long cleanup of the area and nearby shoreline after the July 24, 2007 spill.

The spill displaced 250 area residents and significantly damaged 11 homes after an excavator operated by a B. Cusano employee punctured the pipeline that carries crude from Kinder Morgan's Trans-Mountain terminal on the south side of Burnaby Mountain to the company's Westridge Marine terminal.

Five households were unlivable for four months or more following the spill.

Crude oil shot from a geyser 20 to 40 feet in the air for nearly 30 minutes on Inlet Drive - covering homes, trees, and wildlife, and contaminating 830,000 kilograms of soil.

Nearly 78,000 litres poured into Burrard Inlet, impacting 17 kilometres of shoreline.

Twenty migratory birds were covered in crude, while seaweed, starfish and barnacles were heavily oiled.

Following the spill, Kinder Morgan spent upwards of $15 million in remediation costs and millions more for personal property damage.

Floating boons were brought into Burrard Inlet to contain the spill while water skimmers and vacuum trucks did the rest.

"This is not a situation where pollution was let out for profit," said judge Bagnall during sentencing.

"The spill was, in contrary, an accident," she said.

The companies involved - Kinder Morgan, who operates the pipeline owned by Trans Mountain, Surrey-based B. Cusano Contracting Inc. and Burnaby's R.F. Binnie and Associates Ltd. - each plead guilty in early October to introducing waste into the environment causing pollution under the Environment Management Act.

Each party will pay a $1,000 fine and is ordered to contribute $149,000 into a B.C. environmental trust fund.

Trans Mountain is also voluntarily committing $100,000 to the B.C. Common Ground Alliance to fund DigSafe B.C. workshops.

The companies faced a maximum fine of $1 million each.

More to come.

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