In a dramatic mass ‘die-in’ at the gates of the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Burnaby Mountain, local residents drew attention to the many public safety risks associated with the massive expansion of the tank farm.
Led by Watch House guardian and Tsleil-Waututh member Will George, demonstrators marched from Kwekwecnewtxw – the Watch House to Kinder Morgan’s gates. Wearing hazmat suits and enacting the scenes of a potential future crisis at the site of the tank farm, local residents showed scenes of the real risk to their communities in the event of a fire or spill at the Kinder Morgan facility.
Several people were arrested for blockading the gates and preventing workers to entire the Kinder Morgan construction site during the rally.
Dr. Stephanie von Dehn, a physician and member of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), was arrested holding a sign about the public health risks associated with the tank farm, where bitumen and its diluent are stored before being loaded onto Aframax tankers. The sign read, “We cannot fight a fire here.‘The risk to life and health are far too high. This project is completely unacceptable to the fire department,” quoting a 2015 report from the Burnaby Fire Department by Deputy Burnaby Fire Chief Chris Bowcock.
Kinder Morgan plans to triple the capacity of storage for diluted bitumen at the tank farm as part of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. The tank farm is located in a densely populated urban area of Metro Vancouver, and the local fire department has publicly announced that they will be unable to respond to a fire at the tank farm due to the extreme risk.
In the report, Deputy Chief Bowcock said, “The closeness of the tank design creates situations where tank fire fighting is not possible, creating the very real risk of an inextinguishable multiple tank fire event.”
The demonstration comes just after federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s announcement that Trudeau’s government is prepared to indemnify the project against the British Columbian government’s opposition.
“This fight is driven by a love for land and a love for our communities,” said Anna Gerrard, who was arrested at the Kinder Morgan gates. “That is not something that is going to go away, it’s only growing as we stand united in support of Indigenous rights.”