A strong burning smell reported across Metro Vancouver Sunday morning was connected to a fire at the Parkland refinery in north Burnaby, according to officials.
Many residents woke up to an intense odour early Sunday, which was concentrated in East Vancouver and the adjoining area of north Burnaby.
A spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said that the smell came from a fire at the refinery, near Confederation Park, and that the fire is now under control.
A CBC News reporter outside the refinery described the smell as “acrid burning, like plastic or chemical”.
Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, that there was a “hydro carbon industrial event” in Burnaby, with smoke and odour from there making its way to Vancouver.
The city’s fire department later issued an advisory Sunday warning of the smell.
Currently, there is a hydro carbon industrial event in Burnaby. Outfall is this odour and smoke travelling to <a href=”https://twitter.com/CityofVancouver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CityofVancouver</a> . <br>Burnaby is Monitoring air quality<br><br>Out of an abundance of caution / if you smell this: close your windows.<br><br>We will be issuing an advisory.
The Environment Ministry spokesperson told CBC News the ministry was also aware of the smell and was advising residents to stay at home if they were overwhelmed by the odour.
“Details about the source of the fire are not known at this time,” the spokesperson wrote. “Provincial environmental emergency response officers are monitoring the situation and working with Parkland to monitor potential air quality impacts.”
In a statement, the Burnaby Fire Department said they responded to an “industrial incident” within the refinery fence line around 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
“Burnaby Fire crews established an operational perimeter between the facility and the adjacent neighbourhood,” read the statement. “Using standard operational pre-plans, Burnaby Fire assessed and confirmed no immediate concerns related to the safety of citizens.”
A Parkland spokesperson said in a statement that the refinery had experienced an issue with one of its processing units.
“Neighbours in the community may notice temporarily elevated smoke, odours and particulate matter,” the spokesperson wrote. “We continue to work with relevant authorities, and our refinery team is working to resolve this temporary issue.”
The spokesperson added that no one was injured. CBC News has followed up with the company to find out what exactly was burning and whether there are any health risks associated with the odour.
In a Friday statement, the refinery had advised Burnaby residents that they could notice “a higher than usual flare and potential intermittent noise” over the next several days as they worked to start up their operations.
“The refinery is committed to safe, reliable, and efficient operations while minimizing potential impacts to our neighbours,” reads the statement. “All safety and environmental protocols are being followed, and all required regulators have been notified.”
A City of Vancouver spokesperson said in a statement that if anyone was outdoors Sunday and feeling impacted by the odour, they should consider moving indoors to a community centre or library.