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ZAMA CITY, Alta. - A pipeline operated by Houston-based Apache has spilled 9.5 million litres of toxic industrial waste water in wetlands area of northern Alberta on June 1, 2013.
It is located in a muskeg or wetland area, habitat of birds, lynx, woodland bison, wolves, moose, woodland caribou.
The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure.
Chambaud said the 42-hectare spill is so large it raises questions about how long the pipeline that carries water used in oil and natural gas operations had been leaking.
He said some band members believe the pipeline had been leaking since the winter, but no one noticed it until earlier this month.
“There are indications that the spill occurred earlier, during the winter season, but due to ice and snow it wasn’t discovered.”
Chambaud said water from the spill has leaked into a stream that runs through a small aboriginal community and onto land used by band members to hunt and trap.
“Every plant and tree died,” said John Ahnassay, Chief of Dene Tha First Nation. Apache is claiming that know Wildlife in the area has dies, but the Dena Tha suspects waterfowl has died from the spill
A First Nation wants answers from a Texas-based oil company after a pipeline spilled 9.5 million litres of industrial waste water in northern Alberta.
Dene Tha' leaders are to meet Monday with Apache Canada Ltd. officials in the remote community of Assumption.
Sidney Chambaud, a band councillor, said they want more information about what happened and what the company is going to do about it.
"There are wildlife impacts and water and land impacts," Chambaud said in an interview Thursday.
"Right now within that area the trees, the vegetation and the soil are dead. The water is contaminated."
Members of the Dene Tha First Nation near Zama City are worried about the effects the waste water spill could have on their traditional territory.
The Dene Tha is made up of three communities and eight reserves, spanning 75,000 acres surrounding Zama.
“These impacts do have impacts on our traditional ways of being out on the land. Right from burial right to vegetations which we use for spiritual healing,” said Sidney Chambaud, a councillor with the First Nation.
Chambaud said the area around the spill is an ancient hunting ground for the Dene Tha.
Rachel Notley, environment critic for the Alberta NDP, said the time it took for officials to learn about this spill and release information on it is unacceptable.
“The fact of the matter is if you drank this processed water you would probably die,” she said. “If it kills things, it should not be allowed to run unchecked and it is the largest release of poison into the environment in the history of this province and this government took 12 days to tell us about it.”
One spill last June near Sundre fouled the Red Deer River after about 475,000 litres of oil spilled.
Earlier this year the province charged U.S.-based company over an April 2011 breach near the community of Little Buffalo in north central Alberta following a spill of 4.5 million litres of oil.
"This government can't be trusted to protect our air and water," NDP member Rachel Notley said of the Apache Canada spill.
All spills in order of occurrence:
March 11 – 21: Gwagwalada Town, Nigera
A week-long leak of Kilometer 407.5 NNPC (Nigeria National Petroleum Corp) pipeline. No official # of barrels spilled released, however the spill saturated a hectare (10,000 sq metres) of marshy ground near a major water source.
Tuesday, March 19: Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories Canada
Enbridge Norman Wells Pipeline leaks 6,290 barrels of crude oil
Monday, March 25: Fort MacKay, Alberta Canada
Suncor Tar Sands tailings pond leaks 2,200 barrels of toxic waste fluid into the Athabasca River
Wednesday, March 27: Parker Prairie, Minnesota USA
CP Rail train derails and spills 952 barrels of Tar Sands crude oil
Friday, March 29: Mayflower, Arkansas
Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus Pipeline suffers a 22 foot-long rupture, spilling at least 12,000 barrels of diluted Tar Sands bitumen
Sunday, March 31: A power plant in Lansing, Michigan USA
16 barrels of an oil-based hydraulic fluid spills into the Grand River
Tuesday, April 2: Nembe, Nigeria
After suffering a reported theft of 60,000 barrels of oil per day from its Nembe Creek Trunkline pipeline, Shell Nigeria shuts off the pipe for 9 days to repair damage.
Wednesday, April 3: 350KM southeast of Newfoundland, Canada
A drilling platform leaks 0.25 barrels of crude oil
Wednesday, April 4: Chalmette, Louisiana USA
0.24 barrels (100 lbs) of hydrogen sulfide and 0.04 barrels (10lbs of benzene) leak at an Exxon Refinery
Monday, April 8: Esmeraldas, Ecuador
The OPEC-managed OCP pipeline leaks 5,500 barrels of heavy crude oil, contaminating the Winchele estuary
Tuesday, April 9: 29KM NE of Nuiqsut, Alaska USA
Human error during maintenance spills 157 barrels of crude oil at a Repsol E&P USA Inc pipeline pump station
Bay Springs oil spill state's costliest in decade
The Bay Springs oil leak that polluted wetlands and waterways four months ago was the state’s costliest pipeline accident in a decade at more than $5.2 million, according to a federal agency that tracks such incidents.
Some 122 barrels of crude oil had drained from the Plains All American pipeline before officials noticed the leak on Feb. 5 and shut down operations, according to a company report filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
By the numbers
Here’s how the $5.2 million in costs breaks down:
• $3,500: Lost value of the leaked crude oil
• $150,000: Property damage
• $4,924,000: Emergency fees
• $123,653: Environmental factors
The industry and the government called it salt water but the local Dene tribe claim the "toxic substance contains hydrocarbons, high levels of salt, sulphurous compounds, metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials, along with chemical solvents and additives used by the oil industry."