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Burnaby Newsleader (Canada): Shell files suit over oil spill costs

By Michael McQuillan
Sep 21 2007

Shell Canada filed a law suit this week seeking damages following the July oil spill in North Burnaby.

The Calgary-based company is looking to recover costs from the City of Burnaby, Kinder Morgan and Cusano Contracting. Shell operates the Shellburn Distribution Facility at the north end of Kensington Avenue. It receives petroleum products from the Kinder Morgan pipeline which was damaged, then shut down July 24.

It’s estimated that 234,000 litres of crude oil were spilled when a Cusano excavator struck the pipeline, sending a geyser into the air in the 7200-block of Inlet Drive. The geyser coated the neighbourhood with oil.

“I suspect this is the first of many law suits that will arise from this,” said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. “It’s not surprising there will be litigation. I’ve said that from the very beginning. It’s unlikely you’re going to have a major incident like this and not end up with the interests of people not being affected.”

As a result of the spill, which resulted in oil flowing into Burrard Inlet, Shell chose to suspend its dock operations for 11 days, said Shell spokesperson Denita Davis.

“The Shellburn facility was impacted by the spill and the spill required us to suspend our dock operations at our terminal,” she said. “The first priority is always to protect our employees, neighbours and the environment.”

In order to ensure the safety of those responding to the spill and assist with the cleanup operations, the company stopped its operations. “It was absolutely imperative that the dock operations be closed,” explained Davis.

The writ was something the company had to do within 60 days of the spill occurring, she said. “As a result of the spill, Shell Canada incurred some costs that, once a full investigation into the incident is conducted, we’ll be looking to recoup.

“The writ was filed to protect our rights to make a claim for costs incurred,” said Davis. “It’s part of the process.”

Shell is claiming general and special damages and the recovery of remediation and legal costs.

The Kinder Morgan pipeline was ruptured by an excavator that was doing sewer work for the city on Inlet Drive.

The incident is being investigated by the National Energy Board and provincial and federal environment ministries.

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