SUNDRE, Alta. Crews scrambled Friday to contain and clean up apipeline leak thought to have spilled up to 475,000 litres of crudeoil flowing into a rain-swollen Red Deer River system inwest-central Alberta. Plains Midstream Canada said the oil spilled into Jackson Creeknear Sundre, about 100 kilometres from Red Deer. The creek flowsinto the Red Deer River. |
When the spill was discovered Thursday night, the company closedoff its network of pipelines in the area. Premier Alison Redford headed to nearby Dixon Dam to hold a newsconference Friday, where she said the spill had been contained tothe Gleniffer reservoir and crews were working to minimize theenvironmental impact. She said there will be an investigation but added that Alberta spipeline system is supported by a strong regulatory framework thatserves as a model for other jurisdictions. It s my expectation that the minister of environment and theminister of energy, as well as the (Energy Resources ConservationBoard), will have to review those investigations once they recompleted to determine the cause of this incident, and then to takewhatever steps might need to be taken in order to prevent this inthe future. It is unfortunate when these events happen.
We are fortunate inthis province that they don t happen very often, and we can havesome confidence that when they do happen, we have plans in place todeal with them. Tracey McCrimmon, executive director of a community group thatworks with the industry, said people who live just north of Sundrephoned in reports Thursday night of smelling rotten eggs. The first call that we got was at 8:40 p.m., said McCrimmon,director of the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group. We called allof the oil and gas operators within six kilometres of the area.They were able to source the odour within an hour.
Heavy rains have swollen streams and rivers in the area and localofficials are concerned the oil will spread more quickly down thesystem. There s oil in the river and the river is moving very quicklyright now because of the recent rains and meltwater, said BruceBeattie, reeve of Mountain View County. It s going to be a majorenvironmental concern for sure. Marcy Bloss woke up Friday morning to an oily stench drifting inthe window of her home about two kilometres from Glenifferreservoir.
Once you got to the lake the smell was overpowering, Blosssaid. Alberta Environment spokeswoman Jessica Potter said peopledownstream of the spill have been told not to use river water untilfurther notice. Water intakes have been shut at all facilities downstream and weare encouraging people to shut-in their water and not draw from theriver at this time. Sundre is upriver from the spill, but Red Deer is downstream.
TheCity of Red Deer has been told booms will be set up on the rivernear the Dickson dam and Gleniffer reservoir. We are monitoring the situation at this time, said LeslieChivers, a city spokesman. If things change, then we ll adviseresidents of further actions that will be happening. Plains Midstream vice-president Stephen Bart said the company isdoing everything possible to limit the environmental impacts. We re committing the resources necessary to mount a full-scaleresponse.
Containment booms and skimmers have been set up at the reservoir tosop up the crude oil before it reaches the Dickson Dam and keywaterways for municipalities upstream, the company said. The spill comes as Plains Midstream continues to clean up an April29, 2011, pipeline spill of 4.5 million litres of oil northeast ofPeace River. That leak one of the largest in Alberta history happened in aremote area on the 772-kilometre, 44-year-old Rainbow line betweenZama, Alta. and Edmonton.
Energy critics and conservation groups say the spill near Sundreraises new questions about pipeline safety, monitoring and theenforcement of environmental regulations. Albertans should be extremely concerned that these pipelinespills keep happening and (about) the weak detection systems inplace, said Madeline Wilson of the Alberta WildernessAssociation. Alberta s Opposition Wildrose Party called the spill furtherevidence the government is failing to effectively enforce theenergy industry. Our regulations are no good unless we have the boots on theground to enforce them, said Wildrose environment critic JoeAnglin.
There is no reason why these kinds of spills should beoccurring in Alberta. With files from Calgary Herald.
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