Canadian • Alberta’s Red Deer River hit by oil leak
A large amount of oil has spilled from an Alberta pipeline into a creek, with an early estimate of 1,000 to 3,000 barrels leaking into a tributary of the Red Deer River, one of the province’s most important waterways.
Plains Midstream Canada said it was notified about the leak near Sundre, Alta. Thursday night. The leak is 160,000 to 475,000 litres in size, which was released into Jackson Creek. The company is dispatching aircraft to survey the damage, which local residents expect to be significant, with the Red Deer River currently flooding.
"I would expect that the vast majority of it will end up in the Red Deer River," said Bruce Beattie, reeve of Mountain View County. "It’s a major concern."
Following heavy rainfall in Alberta over recent days, the Red Deer River is flowing fast and wide, a fact that stands to exacerbate the effects of the spill.
Jackson Creek is located north, and downstream, of Sundre. The spill, however, is upstream of Red Deer, Alberta’s third-largest city, which is some 75 kilometres away.
With the Red Deer in "in significant flood, it won’t take long to be down the river for sure," said Mr. Beattie.
The spilled oil is light sour crude. The pipeline was not operating at the time, and Plains did not detect the leak itself — a pattern that has reoccurred at numerous recent spills. The company was informed of the leak by the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group, a not-for-profit society established to help navigate issues between oil companies and residents.
Plains Midstream, a subsidiary of Plains All American American Pipeline LP, is the same company that saw a 28,000-barrel spill in northern Alberta last year. That spill on the Rainbow pipeline was discovered in late April of 2011. It halted operations on some stretches of the Rainbow line until late August.
Alberta has suffered a string of oil leaks, including a recent spill that was discovered May 19 from piping attached to a well owned by Pace Oil & Gas Ltd. That spill, Pace said this week, was smaller than the 22,000 barrels initially believed. Pace said it was less than 5,000 barrels, although the actual quantity of spilled oil did not change much. Pace initially believed the spill was 70 per cent water. It now says it was entirely light oil.
Plains said it intended to release more details on its spill later this morning.
Oil spills into waterways are considered particularly serious, since water can so rapidly spread a spill, and substantially worsen the impacts of the oil.
According to a fishing website, Jackson Creek is just eight kilometres from Sundre, and is home to bull trout, brown trout and brook trout.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:20 am
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