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Soybean-based diesel fuel reaches Burrard Inlet after Suncor spill

Suncor Energy

© Todd Korol/REUTERS

Suncor Energy Inc. spilled roughly 225 barrels of a renewable diesel product at a West Coast terminal Saturday, with a small amount of fuel reaching the waters of Burrard Inlet.

The facility is near Port Moody, B.C., and most of the fuel spilled on the ground, Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said late Wednesday. The company deployed booms and absorbent pads to clean up the fuel that did get to the the water.

"It is soybean-based biodegradable renewable fuel," she said. "We do believe a very small amount may have reached the water of the Burrard Inlet."

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Suncor is working with Western Canada Marine Response Corp. to clean up and it notified regulators, Ms. Seetal said.

"Any time you spill something you don't intend to spill, you take it seriously," she said. "Any unintended release is unacceptable. We're disappointed."

Energy companies across the continent are under pressure to prove they can transport and store oil, natural gas and other products safely, as the White House ponders whether to approve TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline. The controversial line would be used to move oil sands crude to refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast.

Suncor in late March poured about 350,000 litres of industrial waste water from its oil sands operation into the Athabasca River over a 10-hour stretch. The company said the waste water did not contain bitumen. Suncor said the leak had a "short term, negligible impact" on the river. Toxic water flowed in to the river for three days at the same site in 2011, a fact that was only revealed last month by the Alberta government.

The product spilled Saturday near Port Moody is a clear, odourless fuel that leaked from a storage tank at Suncor's site. The company responded "immediately," Ms. Seetal said. The oil sands outfit contained the leak, drained the tank and transferred the remaining fuel elsewhere. It trenched around the tank to collect the fuel already on the ground. Suncor also blocked storm sewers to prevent more of the leaked fuel from reaching Burrard Inlet.

Asked why Suncor did not announce the spill, Ms. Seetal said the company's procedure is to notify regulators, which it did.

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