Reports of second spill untrue: ERCB
The Energy Resources Conservation Board says unofficial reports of an alleged new leak into the Red Deer River are not true.
“There’s been no new leak. Period,” said ERCB spokesman Bob Curran.
A June 7 leak from the Plains Midstream-owned Rangeland pipeline near Sundre reportedly saw up to 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil leak into the Red Deer River and make its way to the Gleniffer Lake water reservoir.
Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin said he and Mountain View County councillor Paddy Munro went boating upriver near the original leak site on the afternoon of June 23. Anglin said the original sites and cleanup could be clearly seen, but they also spotted a large pool of oil in a back eddy that had not been boomed by cleanup crews.
He said they heard from a worker there had been an additional leak.
“It could have seeped from the apron but the apron looked properly installed,” Anglin said.
Curran said ERCB personnel were dispatched along the river checking for any sign of a new leak “and found nothing.”
Up until about June 17, he said, there might have been some additional oil leaking out, but Plains Midstream has purged the line, he added.
He said it’s possible the oil Anglin and Munro spotted was an area Plains Midstream’s crews haven’t gotten to yet.
“You never know where oil is going to accumulate,” he said.
Don Bester of the Alberta Surface Rights Group said he’d also heard about an alleged release on June 23.
“All the facts are going to come out in court,” Bester said.
The Alberta Surface Rights Group is one of 17 groups that placed an ad in various Alberta newspapers calling for the government to initiate an independent review of pipeline safety.
“It’s happening too many times,” Bester said. “It’s quite obvious the government is just going to pass over this again.”
He said the lobbying has been going on for too long.
“We want changes and we want them now,” Bester said. “We want some major changes in the way river crossing’s done in the future.”
He pointed out it’s not known if the oil did make it over the dam before the boom was installed across Gleniffer Lake. According to Plains Midstream information updates, tests along the river and at water treatment plants show the water quality is within Canadian guidelines.
Landowners have lost trust in the government and regulatory bodies, and an independent study is the best way to get an accurate report on pipeline safety, Bester said.
“It’s been lobbied for years and years to deaf ears.”
Along with the Alberta Surface Rights Group, the 16 other associations on the ad calling for the independent study include the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the National Farmers Union, and the Sierra Club Prairie Chapter.
Anglin said the call for an independent study is “premature.”
“Let the facts determine that,” Anglin said.
The rules and regulations surrounding the pipelines are effective, Anglin said, as long as the process is followed properly.
“This system works and it works well,” Anglin said.
Meanwhile, cleanup work continues along the Red Deer River and Gleniffer Lake, said an information update from Plains Midstream on June 26.
A Plains Midstream employee referred the Gazette’s request for an update on the pipe being pulled out of the river to a June 18 news conference. The same employee said company officials are not commenting on either the alleged second spill on June 23 or the $85-million lawsuit that has been launched against Plains Midstream Canada regarding the leak.