You can’t drink oil or eat money

Three oil spills have affected Alberta's water supplies

Dear Sir:

In just six weeks, there were three major oil spills in Alberta.

In May, the Pace Energy Oil and Gas reported an oil spill of 5,000 barrels near Rainbow Lake, northwest Alberta. On June 19, Enbridge confirmed a spill of about 230,000 litres through its pumping station on its Athabasca pipeline, near the town of Elk Point.

The third pipeline leak on Plains Midstream Canada pipeline (PMC), early June, near Sundre (100 km west of Red Deer) was the worst in recent years. It spilled nearly half a million liters of oil into Jackson Creek and dripped into the Red Deer River and Gleniffer Lake and Reservoir, a source of drinking water for many residents in Sundre area. Several families were forced to leave their houses and suffered health problems due to inhaling toxic fumes.

Residents and business owners are launching a class-action lawsuit against PMC after they say the latest oil spill devastated their property value. Merchant Law Group filed the suit against PMC in late June. Local realtors who were consulted suggest property values have been halved as a result of the recent oil spill.

Fortunately, for Sundre residents the oil spilled to their drinking water resources was the light sour crude oil, which doesn’t pose dangerous qualities as DilBit has, the tar sand oil Enbridge will be shipping through our land and water. (DilBit stands for Diluted Bitumen, a heavier and dirtier form of conventional crude oil. It is a highly corrosive, acidic and a potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid).

The residents of Sundre discovered and reported the oil spill to the local authorities, which in turn notified the pipeline operator PMC about the spill on its pipeline.

A question arises in case of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline (ENGP) who is going to report the oil spill in remote places of northern wilderness. And how on earth is this going to be reported to Enbridge monitoring station. Even residents of Rosswood, a community just 40 north of Terrace are out of range.

The Sundre oil spill proves that the oil company has failed to effectively monitor the operation of its pipeline; the spill was discovered by the residents not by a sophisticated monitoring device the oil company claims to use to safeguard its hazardous operation on our land and water.

Can Enbridge be trusted? Enbridge Inc. has an alarming record of environmental accidents, over 600 of them between 1999 and 2008.

The next day after the spill, Alberta premier Alison Redford visited the oil spill site in Sundre has commented, “risks come with economic development”. I wonder if BC Premier Christy Clark shares her opinion on this subject.

With the increase of pipelines and tar sand oil production in the future, there isn’t enough manpower to respond to spills across remote or populated areas. Yet, the federal government shut down its environmental emergency response Edmonton office, which in the recent years helped to deal with 1,000 oil spills per year.

Water is the most precious resource we have. It is irreplaceable and we should protect it at all cost. Without clean water, we won’t exist and no amount of money or assets would change it.

We can’t drink oil or eat money!!!

Ann Parker, Terrace, BC