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Kinder Morgan holds spill drill Thursday on Cheam beach

An emergency spill response exercise Thursday by Kinder Morgan officials saw land-based instruction and containment equipment demonstrations at Cheam beach on the Fraser River. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
An emergency spill response exercise Thursday by Kinder Morgan officials saw land-based instruction and containment equipment demonstrations at Cheam beach on the Fraser River.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

There was no actual oil spilled into the Fraser River.

It was just an emergency response exercise being conducted Thursday by Kinder Morgan officials on the Cheam First Nation beach.

But the public may have noticed some extra activity and traffic under the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge.

They were demonstrating Kinder Morgan emergency spill response plans and testing containment equipment for most of the day.

It was a scheduled exercise "conducted as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to safety and emergency preparedness," said officials in a press release from Kinder Morgan.

The drill saw land‐based instruction on spill response equipment setup and deployment, followed by an on‐water deployment of emergency equipment including a containment boom.

"I'm glad that Kinder Morgan decided to do this on our reserve," said Darwin Douglas, a Cheam First Nation band councillor. "It's good for us to get a glimpse of some of their emergency preparedness plans and response techniques."

Pipeline safety is obviously of huge concern to Cheam members, and to the First Nations community in general, Douglas underlined.

"Many people had questions, like where the emergency equipment is located, and how long would it take to get here in the case of a spill," he said. "It's a large concern for us in terms of fishing, or other cultural uses in the area, and the environmental health of our territory in general."

Keeping the channels of communication open with pipeline proponents is also important.

"So this exercise was appreciated by us since their existing pipeline goes through areas of cultural use, including those near the river," he said.

Equipment included trucks and an oil spill response trailer, a small front‐end loader, and three Kinder Morgan Canada boats. In addition to the spill response equipment, the wildlife response unit was also on display.

"The purpose of this exercise is to practise Kinder Morgan Canada’s emergency response plans to ensure an effective and coordinated response in the unlikely event of an emergency," the release said. "Kinder Morgan Canada conducts regular emergency response training each year at various locations and under different scenarios."

They initially wanted to conduct the exercise in the Ferry Island Park area, but it wasn't feasible logistically.

"Kinder Morgan Canada ensures public safety and safe pipeline operations through employee training, regular testing, right‐of‐way aerial and foot patrols and adherence to its comprehensive integrity management program." For more details on pipeline safety see www.kindermorgan.com/pipelinesafety/.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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