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Oil spills into the Red Deer River amid monitoring controversy

By Grace C. Visconti     Jun 9, 2012 in Environment
Oil spill from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline, contaminates Jackson Creek and oozes into the Red Deer River and Gleniffer Lake and Reservoir. The 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil stench seeped into the homes of residents who reported the spill.
An oil spill has just occurred today from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline, built in 1966, contaminating the Jackson Creek, Red Deer River and Gleniffer Lake and Reservoir that supplies drinking water to many surrounding communities including Red Deer and Sundre, Alberta. The estimated 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil stench seeped into the homes of residents who reported the spill. Resident Chris Huhn in this CBC article, called the Energy Resource Conservation Board (ERCB) emergency hotline describing his concern of the latest Alberta oil spill. In this article Cleanup of latest Alberta oil spill could take all summer by the Globe and Mail, MLA Joe Anglin of the opposition provincial Wildrose Party said that the province is not providing adequate monitoring and enforcement.
The Sundre Petroleum Operators Group notified the 24 hour control centre in Olds, Alberta about the Plains Midstream Canada pipeline oil spill on Thursday night. Since residents reported this oil spill after contacting oil companies in the area, it proves that the pipeline monitoring system by industry and government is sorely inadequate. If this is a sign how the oil industry and Canadian governments will anticipate and monitor future oil spills, then we are in big trouble. When thousands of miles of future proposed pipelines crisscross provinces and states in Canada and the U.S., it will most likely be the people of communities reporting the spills contaminating their land and water. Moreover, there is a possibility that the liabilities will mount when communities sue governments and oil companies for contamination to land and water due to insufficient monitoring and/or response.
In the wake of environmental cuts by the federal government, Federal Environment Minister Kent pledged to Jennifer Martin in his May 1st 2012 Alberta Primetime broadcast Responsibility for Environmental Emergencies that high tech will be the solution to identifying oil spills in the future and adequate enough. However, in this article The Pembina Institute responds to federal environmental cuts, the Pembina Institute’s Nathan Lemphers, MCP, Senior Policy Analyst, disagrees and insists, “It will limit the ability for the federal government to quickly respond with on the ground personnel.” Lemphers describes the emergency response in place before the federal cuts as “inadequate” given what happened with the Lake Wabamun spill. The inadequacy of a quick response to the environmental disaster in this CN derailment accident can be found in the Report to the Railway Safety Act Review Advisory Panel. The Lake Wabamun Disaster: A Catalyst for Change. This report is an indication and warning that collectively, we’d better take heed now of the detrimental effects and consequences of oil spills as ecosystems become contaminated.
This latest spill into Jackson Creek, the Red Deer River, Gleniffer Lake and Reservoir is the second in two months in Alberta. On May 19, 2012 a bigger oil spill was discovered by another company flying over a site roughly 20 km southeast of Rainbow Lake in a remote northwestern corner of Alberta 587 km north of Grande Prairie. It was estimated that 22,000 barrels of oil spilled onto 10 acres of muskeg through a hole in the pipe caused by a welding crack from operator Pace Oil & Gas Ltd. However, the Rainbow Lake spill was reported by the Edmonton Journal to be 75 percent smaller than the initial estimates.
Before the Rainbow Lake spill, the second largest spill within a year occurred in April 2011 when 28,000 gallons of oil from the Plains Midstream Rainbow pipeline belonging to Plains All America Pipeline L.P., spilled oil 100 km north of Peace River in Northern Alberta.
Unfortunately, the federal government shut down the Edmonton office where experts assisted with 1,000 oil spills per year. This latest oil spill is one more indication that more manpower needs to be on the ground to contain and clean up oil spills or the health of people in communities is at risk.
When Premier Alison Redford visited the oil spill in the Red Deer area after 5:00 p.m. on Friday June 8, she assured Albertans and community residents affected by the oil spill that it would be cleaned up promptly, thereby “minimizing the environmental impact and ensuring the health and safety of Albertans is our priority.” Furthermore, she promised a full investigation of the oil spill.
The problem remains that with the increase of pipelines and oilsands production in the future, there isn’t enough manpower to respond to spills across vast amounts of wilderness as well as populated areas. Simultaneous oil spill incidences may be overwhelming for everyone involved. Concerned environmentalists have been sounding the alarm for quite some time about this issue so the protests and insistence for accountability won’t go away any time soon.
Crews continue to clean up oil spill
Cleanup of latest Alberta oil spill could take all summer
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