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UPDATE: Kinder Morgan's tank farm risk assessment lacking: U.K. expert

Company's assessment fails to include boilover event as worst-case scenario

Kinder Morgan’s risk assessment for the Burnaby Mountain tank farm contains serious deficiencies, and the proposed expansion would not pass muster in the U.K., according to an expert hired by the City of Burnaby.

ASK Consultants founder Ivan Vince - a chemist, engineer and scientist specializing in industrial hazards - authored a report on Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion for the tank farm.

“The application for expanding the Burnaby terminal would, in my opinion, have failed in the U.K. and, in all probability, throughout the EU,” Vince wrote in his conclusion.

According to Vince, Kinder Morgan’s risk assessment falls short, mainly because it does not consider a “boilover” event, where heated tanks can explode, spraying burning crude over the mountainside.

“The risk assessment carried out on behalf of the applicant contains several serious deficiencies,” Vince wrote. “A valid risk assessment, addressing both severity and likelihood, with due consideration of boil-over, would in my opinion lead to the conclusion that the risk is already high and would become intolerably high, … if the expansion went ahead.”

According to Vince, a boilover would potentially endanger firefighters and anyone closeby that wasn’t evacuated in time. Radiant heat from the resulting fireball and burning oil raining down could start a forest fire, which, if uncontrolled, would cause evacuation problems for people at Simon Fraser University.

Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs oil from Alberta to Burnaby, includes plans to triple capacity (to 5.6 million barrels of crude) at the tank farm, not far from homes, schools and Simon Fraser University.

Vince’s online CV includes work as an investigator examining the Buncefield tank farm fire of 2005, where one explosion led to a chain of events and 20 tanks on fire.

Vince’s report is just the latest in a barrage of evidence intervenors are filing with the National Energy Board for Wednesday’s deadline. Two weeks ago, Burnaby’s deputy fire chief, Chris Bowcock, released a report detailing worst-case scenarios at the tank farm and fire safety concerns he’s been voicing for more than a year. Bowcock’s report also outlined the possibility of a boilover event, as well as forest fires, poisonous gases and tanks burning for days.

In response to Vince’s report, the company said the terminal has been operating safely for 60 years.

“This latest report commissioned by the City of Burnaby is an expected part of the regulatory process as intervenors prepare to file final evidence by the May 27 deadline. Trans Mountain filed our own risk assessment for (the) Burnaby terminal and will be responding to this report and others in more detail through the process,” wrote Ali Hounsell, a communications staffer with the Trans Mountain expansion plan, in an email to the NOW.

Hounsell said a boilover event was discussed in the company's report, but the risk of that happening with proper tank design and management is "extremely low."

“As always, important conversations happen both inside and outside the regulatory process and we would welcome a discussion with the City of Burnaby to better understand and address their concerns and questions," Hounsell wrote.

Once all the intervenor evidence is filed, Kinder Morgan’s representatives will have a chance to reply through the NEB hearing.

Go to Jennifer Moreau's blog to read Vince's full report.