Millions of litres of oil, waste have spilled in Alberta in recent years

CALGARY – Nexen Energy apologized Friday for a five-million-litre pipeline spill of bitumen, produced water and sand into muskeg at its Long Lake oilsands project near Fort McMurray. Here is a list of some other Alberta spills in recent years:

March 2015: About 2.7 million litres of condensate used to dilute heavy oil was discovered near the muskeg’s surface at Murphy Oil’s heavy oil site, 80 kilometres northeast of Peace River. The company said the spill occurred over an extended time period. No harm to wildlife was reported.

November 2014: Canadian Natural Resources said a mechanical failure led to a spill of 60,000 litres of crude oil near Red Earth Creek in northern Alberta. The company said most of the spill was contained on the company’s land and a nearby pipeline right of way. No report of harm to wildlife.

April 2014: A pipeline owned by Canadian Natural Resources spilled 70,000 litres of oil and processed water northwest of Slave Lake. The spill was described as not being near any people, water or wildlife.

July 2013: Canadian Natural Resources identified four sites where a bitumen-water mix had been seeping from an old well at the company’s oilsands project on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. At least 1.5 million litres of bitumen were recovered. At least 100 animals died. The Alberta government issued environmental protection orders and limited the amount of steam CNRL pumps into the reservoir.

May 2013: An Apache Canada pipeline in the Zama City region of northern Alberta leaked 15 million toxic litres of process water heavily contaminated with salt. Another 1.8-million-litre leak of waste water was discovered the following October.

June 2012: Some 461,000 litres of oil from a Plains Midstream pipeline leaked into a tributary of the Red Deer River from an underwater pipe cracked by high water flows. Gleniffer Lake, a man-made reservoir popular with water recreationists, was closed for nearly three weeks. A marina and campground were also closed, fishing on the river was shut down and drinking water was trucked in for people. The province’s regulator concluded the line had not been adequately inspected.

May 2012: A leak that went undetected for days from a Pace Oil and Gas waste disposal line released about 3.5 million litres of a water-oil emulsion into muskeg near Rainbow Lake close to the Northwest Territories boundary. It was discovered when an aircraft from another oil company made a routine flyover.

April 2011: A poorly welded and highly stressed section of the Rainbow pipeline owned by Plains Midstream cracked and spewed about 4.5 million litres of oil into low-lying marshland near the northern Alberta aboriginal community of Little Buffalo. Only a beaver dam prevented the oil from spreading beyond the spill site. School in Little Buffalo was cancelled for several days over odour concerns. Damage was described in court as significant.

Source: The Canadian Press