04/11/2013 08:22 EDT | Updated 06/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Suncor Spill In Port Moody Leaks Bio-Diesel Into Burrard Inlet

PORT MOODY, B.C. - A spill from a tank at a Suncor Energy plant in Burnaby, B.C., wasn't fuel at all but has still set off alarm bells with local First Nations and environmentalists.

A Suncor spokeswoman said Thursday a type of soybean-based biodegradable product leaked from one of the tanks at a terminal along Burrard Inlet.

Spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said the company believes 225 barrels of product leaked, and about two litres made it to the water.

"It's not fuel," Seetal said, adding the product is used as a blending agent for biofuels.

She said the company believes it has contained most of the product in booms.

"Our first priority in responding to every incident is to protect lives and minimize impacts on the environment," she said. "We have spill response plans in place for all the materials on our site."

News of the spill concerned the Burrard-area Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, which used the accident to call for a moratorium on new pipelines.

"This incident reveals that the government's response plans are inadequate if they cannot, or will not, communicate with First Nations or local government's after the spill," said Carleen Thomas, the ambassador of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.

The spill happened Saturday night, but the First Nation wasn't told of the spill until Tuesday, and the media wasn't alerted until Thursday.

"The provincial and federal governments talk about world-class oil-spill response, but this shows that they are totally unprepared to deal with the oil products that are currently moving through the province, never mind the qualities of oil that new pipelines would bring," Thomas said.

Ben West of the environmental group ForestEthics said his organization was working on reminding candidates in the upcoming B.C. election that they need to pay attention to the nine recent industry oil spills, leaks, derailments and disasters.

"And then this happened right here in B.C. — amazing," he said.

"Industry just can't win, it has been one significant failure after another," West said in a news release.

Seetal said the company did everything required of it after the spill, including reporting to the federal and provincial governments.

"We're absolutely taking this situation seriously."

Seetal said the company is also conducting its own internal investigation to make sure such a spill doesn't happen again.

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