In the wake of Alberta’s biggest pipeline spill in decades, politicians and special interest groups are wading into the debate.
On Friday, April 29th, nearly 30,000 barrels of crude oil leaked from the Rainbow pipeline (owned and operated by Plains All American Pipeline) about 100 kilometres northeast of Peace River.
An Alberta Environment spokesperson confirms that six beavers and 10 ducks have died. Some were euthanized because they were covered in crude, others were found dead.
During a news conference Wednesday, Environment Minister Rob Renner said the province takes incidents like this very seriously, and that "work is already underway to cleanup the site, and (Alberta Environment) will continue to work with crews to ensure the impact is mitigated."
When asked why he wasn’t physically on site inspecting the spill, Renner replied, "I have faith in my staff, and I was advised this is in a very remote area." He added his presence at the site probably wouldn’t offer "significant added value."
Commenting on Alberta’s history with oil spills, Renner said "sure there are incidents from time to time, but I would put our record up against any other."
NDP MLA Rachel Notley is not only frustrated by the minimal amount of monitoring and maintenance of Alberta’s 400,000 km pipeline system – she’s also concerned about how long it took for news of the leak to be made public.
"The break was so significant that the school adjacent to the community was forced to close last Friday," Notley said, "but we did not get public notice of the extent of this breach until Tuesday, the day after the federal election."
The Pembina Institute’s Chris Severson-Baker also questions the delay. "It is a bit concerning how slowly information is coming out to Albertans about how big this impact has been to the environment," he said.
Premier Ed Stelmach was not available for comment, but is expected to address the incident on Thursday.