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Kinder Morgan reports oil leak near Merritt, BC

A crude oil leak has cast Kinder Morgan in a critical light ahead of a bid to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline.

The National Energy Board (NEB) received a report from Kinder Morgan late yesterday afternoon, notifying the regulator of a leak on the pipeline southeast of Merritt, B.C.

The NEB's emergency response team was deployed to monitor and assess the company's response, investigation and clean-up. According to the federal regulator, the pipeline was shut down to prevent further leakage, and there is no immediately safety concern for local residents.

Kinder Morgan released a statement noting the oil was fully contained and staff were working overnight to repair the leak. The cause of the leak has not yet been determined.

The response from B.C. environmental groups has been swift. The Sierra Club's interim executive director Sarah Cox issued a statement calling the incident proof "that we need to reject Kinder Morgan's proposal to build a second pipeline in order to ship tar sands bitumen past Victoria and the Gulf Islands."

The expansion would double the pipeline's output from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels a day and boost Burrard Inlet oil tanker traffic through Kinder Morgan's Burnaby terminal.

Earlier this year, the Houston-based company was fined nearly a million dollars for breaking safety rules in the U.S.

Kinder Morgan is holding an open house tonight in Kamloops to discuss a proposed route for the expanded line it wants to build.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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