CNRL Releases New, Lower Cold Lake Oil Spill Estimates

bitumen emulsion oil spill at CNRL Primrose CSS site in the Alberta oilsands

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has released new figures tallying the total volume of bitumen emulsion recovered at the Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) Primrose site in Cold Lake, Alta. The new total — 1,177 cubic metres or 1.1 million litres — is more than a third lower than previously reported amounts.

An earlier incident report from November 14, 2013, states more than 1,878 cubic metres of emulsion was recovered at the four separate release sites, where the mixture of bitumen and water had been leaking uncontrollably into the surrounding environment for several months without explanation. That's enough liquid to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool three-quarters of the way full.

CNRL's July 31, 2013, statement (pdf), released to investors just over one month after the leaks were reported to the AER, said that within the first month of cleanup, 1,000 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion had been collected.

Scientist Kevin Timoney, who's authored several reports on the CNRL leaks, said the reported figures just don't add up.

The bottom line is, how do you go from essentially 1,900 cubic metres, which is what you get if you listen to the president of CNRL when he was talking in January, down to 1,177 cubic metres. How does that happen?” Timoney said. “And nobody has answered that.”

Apache's 9.5 Million Litre Spill Covers 42 Hectares of "Internationally Important" Wetlands

Apache Produced Water Spill near Zama City in Northern Alberta on DeSmog Canada

A week and a half after its discovery, Apache Corporation estimates that a toxic water leak from a pipeline has affected 42 hectares of land near Zama City in Northern Alberta. The spill released 9.5 million litres of what the company called “produced water” from its operations there, making it the tenth largest in the province since 1975.

Neither Apache nor Alberta Environment have spoken officially on the exact chemical content of the water.

However, the Dene Tha First Nation who has been trapping in the area since the 1950s report detection of “hydrocarbons, high levels of salt, sulphurous compounds, metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials, along with chemical solvents and additives used by the oil industry.”

No estimates have been released regarding the duration of the leak, although locals say the evidence shows it could have be present for “months“ before it was detected on June 1st.

Enbridge "Integrity Dig" Reveals Two Potential Pipeline Leaks in NWT

A scheduled 'integrity dig' on Enbridge's Line 21 or Norman Wells Pipeline has alerted the company to contaminated soil in two locations along the line, according to an Enbridge news release, raising concerns the aging line may be leaking along its 870 kilometre route.

“The pipeline was shut down as a precautionary measure until repair sleeves were installed,” the release reads. “Further investigate is being conducted at each site.”

At kilometre post 457 along the line, near Fort Simpson, roughly 30 cubic metres of hydrocarbon tainted soil were removed from the area. At kilometre post 391, near Wrigley, between 60 and 70 cubic metres of soil were quarantined, the approximate equivalent of 6 or 7 dump truck loads. Enbridge has not indicated the cause of the leaks at this point.

Shell Leak Sheds Light on Life in Canada’s Chemical Valley

On Friday, January 11, while Kim Henry was marching in Ottawa as part of the Idle No More Global Day of Action, the air surrounding her home was turning sour. A leak at the nearby Shell Corunna Refinery filled the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community with the smell of rotten eggs, a typical indicator of the presence of hydrogen sulfide.

Henry is the academic principal of the kindergarten at Aamjiwnaang Binoojiinyag Kino Maagewgamgoons, a daycare that sits in a green crescent not far from the St. Clair River, which separates Canada from Michigan. This area, stretching south from Sarnia toward Lake Eerie has come to be called the Chemical Valley for its 62 nearby large industrial facilities (on both the Canadian and American side of the boarder). Those plants released 131 million kilograms of pollutants in 2005 alone, according to a report from Ontario’s Ecojustice, a charitable organization that advocates for environmental human rights. 

Two Oil Spills in Alberta Due to Inadequate Monitoring

Companies responsible for two separate oil spills in Alberta failed to provide adequate oversight for their operations, according to federal government documents released by Environment Canada through Access to Information legislation.

The documents detail how Devon Canada and Gibson Energy violated environmental laws, including the federal Fisheries Act, when their operations cause two oil spills into fish-bearing waterways in 2010.

Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, spilled a few hundred litres of oil into an Edmonton creek after failing to properly abandon an unused pipeline. According to a warning letter issued to the company from Environment Canada, “Gibson Energy ULC made a business decision to keep the Kinder Morgan lateral full of crude oil and to not purge it with nitrogen.”

Subscribe to Leak