Inaction over oil leak sparks walkouts in Burnaby

Kent Spencer
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Four members of an advisory committee for Chevron’s Burnaby refinery have resigned over the company’s lengthy failure to stop oil trickling into Burrard Inlet. “We’re not happy. The only way we can show that we’re not happy is to quit,” former committee member Judi Marshall said Wednesday. “It makes me sick to think I was a part of the committee.”

Dianne Alsop, who also resigned, said the breaking point was when pictures turned up last month showing considerably more spillage than the 100 millilitres daily that the company said is reaching the inlet. “There was a layer of gunk on the water. I was shocked. It’s coming out at the beach,” said Alsop, who like Marshall is a neighbour of Chevron’s North Willingdon operations.

“What they’ve told us and what are in the pictures are two different things. I totally lost my trust,” she said. Chevron, which has operated in Burnaby for 75 years, said it hasn’t discovered the source of a leak that first came to light on April 21. The company has dug 20 monitoring wells, 10 pumping wells and is using vacuums to scoop up oozing oil before it reaches the water. Spokesman Sean Comey said a half-litre a day is coming from the vacuums at the bottom of the hill and about 75 litres daily from the pumping wells higher up.

“We want this resolved. We’re deploying all necessary resources to quickly address the situation,” he said. Comey, who is based in California, said the committee’s work will continue, despite the departures. B.C. Ministry of Environment officials said in a statement that fines are not being considered, because Chevron is co-operating in its attempts to clean up.

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