NuVista pipeline spills about 100,000 litres near High Level

Officials are responding to a pipeline spill of approximately 100,000 litres - or 100 cubed metres - of emulsion near Chateh, Alberta. Credit: Google Earth

EDMONTON — Officials are responding to a pipeline spill of approximately 100,000 litres – or 100 cubic metres – of emulsion near Chateh, Alberta on the Hay Lake First Nation.

The leak of bitumen, sand and wastewater was found during an aerial surveillance flight at 3 p.m. on Friday, August 14, just northeast of Rainbow Lake, about 100 kilometres west of High Level. The company said it was discovered during a regular daily inspection when the helicopter crew noticed “a small area of stressed vegetation along the route.”

Calgary-based NuVista Energy, which owns the pipeline, immediately closed it off and activated its Emergency Response Plan. Cleanup is underway.

NuVista said the spill came from a pipe that is six inches in diameter. The line runs from an oil testing facility to the oil battery. The company estimates roughly 600 barrels leaked, based on preliminary testing.

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The Alberta Energy Regulator was notified as were Dene Tha’ leaders from the first nation. Representatives from both groups were on site Sunday.

The AER said additional resources are also being sent to the remote location of the spill.

NuVista said Alberta-based North Shore Environmental is managing the spill response. The area impacted is thought to be about 110 metres by 120 metres.

No impacts to wildlife have been reported. A fence has been put up to prevent wildlife from getting in. Mats are also being installed to allow heavy equipment to access the area.

The cause of the leak has not yet been determined.

In July, a Nexen pipeline near Fort McMurray spilled an estimated 5,000 cubic metres of emulsion – about 5 million litres – making it one of the worst leaks in Canadian history.

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