Oil, lumber companies mobilize to protect pipelines, mills from B.C. wildfires
Vancouver – Kinder Morgan Canada and other companies are working to keep some of the more than 200 wildfires burning across British Columbia away from their infrastructure, while a number of firms have suspended or reduced operations for the indefinite future.
“At this time, I think that we’re fine, but each day brings a new set of circumstances,” said Steve Robertson, vice-president of corporate affairs at Imperial Metals Corp.
The company’s Mount Polley open-pit copper and gold mine in the Williams Lake area of B.C. is not directly impacted by the fires, but the ongoing threat has displaced some employees and closed certain roads, affecting the availability of workers and supplies, he said.
The mine continues to operate at a reduced capacity, said Robertson, and the company has a number of plans in place, including one to evacuate the site should the fires move close.
The fire is about 16 kilometres away from the Trans Mountain pipeline’s pump station in Blackpool, B.C., a Kinder Morgan Canada spokesperson said in a statement.
The company is monitoring the situation there and crews are working on implementing the company’s response plan to mitigate any potential risks to these facilities, the spokesperson added.
Earlier in the day, chief operating officer Hugh Harden said in a statement that the company is taking preventative measures, including removing vegetation to create a fire break and adding sprinklers to keep areas wet, at a number of locations.
Pembina Pipeline Corp. continues to monitor above-ground facilities and valve sites, said a spokesperson, adding those remain unaffected by the fires. The company has a pipeline in the province running from Taylor to Kamloops, though it discontinued a southern segment of it late last year.
The province’s electric utility infrastructure has already suffered “significant damage,” BC Hydro said in a statement.
The Crown corporation’s initial assessment found damage to 170 power poles, 95 cross-arms, 90 spans of wire between poles and 30 transformers.
Those numbers are expected to rise, said BC Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott, adding the company was conducting a helicopter patrol Tuesday morning to better assess the damage. That should help ensure the electric utility has the right crews and equipment in the right places, Scott said.
One open-pit mine about 20 kilometres south of Princeton, B.C., lost power for about 36 hours due to the fires, but is now running again, said Copper Mountain Mining Corporation spokesman Dan Gibbons.
The company has lent first aid personnel to Princeton, he added.
West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. temporarily suspended operations at three of its locations Sunday afternoon.
It has deployed staff and resources to protect its operations in Williams Lake and Chasm, B.C.
For the company’s 100 Mile House location, local government authorities are managing the nearby fire, spokeswoman Hannah Seraphim said in an email, as staff and the local community have been evacuated.
None of the company’s facilities have sustained any damage, she said.
Norbord Inc.’s wood panel mill in 100 Mile House remains closed and Tolko Industries Ltd. said on its Facebook page that its Williams Lake area mills will not operate until further notice due to an evacuation alert.