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Oil Spills Spread Devastation Across Alberta

Bradley Hughes

June 28, 2012

Oil pipelines aren’t safe. The three pipeline spills in Alberta are just the most recent in a long list of spills.

At the end of May and twice more during June, large oil spills from ruptured pipelines in Alberta made the news.

In May over 3.5 million litres of mixed oil and water spewed out over 10 acres near Rainbow Lake, north of Grand Prairie, Alberta. This is likely to be the third largest oil spill in Canada, yet. A nearby school was forced to close after the fumes from the leak caused disorientation and nausea among staff and students

In the second week of June around 470,000 litres of crude oil spilled into a tributary of the Red Deer River. Red Deer River provides drinking water for thousands of people.

A farm owner whose land was soaked in oil, Gord Johnston told the Globe & Mail, “My place is destroyed. My whole life’s work is gone. I’ve pretty well lost it all here.” He was forced to seek hospital treatment for his exposure to the oil fumes.

Less than two weeks later another pipeline spilled 230,000 litres of oil across farmland outside of Elk Point, Alberta.

Spills are not unusual for the oil and gas industry. A 2007 Alberta Energy Utilities Board report revealed that between 1990 and 2005 there were at least 860 spills each year of various hydrocarbons, mostly oil. Three years saw over 1100 spills each.

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