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Environment

Alberta energy company, farm owners reach settlement over contaminated land

Lonni Saken is pictured by a contaminated source of water on her farm near Edson, Alta., on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. An Alberta energy company has been ordered to transport water to a family dairy farm where the ground water has been contaminated by chemicals from a nearby gas plant. .
Lonni Saken is pictured by a contaminated source of water on her farm near Edson, Alta., on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. An Alberta energy company has been ordered to transport water to a family dairy farm where the ground water has been contaminated by chemicals from a nearby gas plant. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

A Calgary-based energy company has reached a settlement with an Alberta family, two years after the family alleged its farmland was contaminated by chemicals.

A joint statement was put out by Bonavista Energy Corporation and the Saken family on Monday.

“In March 2014, Bonavista discovered a historic sulfolane release that pre-dated Bonavista’s ownership of the South Rosevear Gas Plant,” the statement said. “The release impacts a groundwater aquifer beneath the plant and the Saken dairy farm.”

Two years ago, Ron and Lonni Saken said they were told their farm near Edson, Alta. – which has been in their family since 1929 – was contaminated by a solvent used in the treatment of sour gas.

READ MORE: Alberta family wants regulator to force talks on contaminated farm

Watch below: On Nov. 9, 2015, Tom Vernon filed this report about an Alberta farm family who said their lives were on hold after their land was contaminated by a nearby gas plant.

Bonavista has said its studies showed the leaching started years before it bought the gas plant from Suncor.

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Experts have estimated the area groundwater would not be safe to use for about 10 to 30 years and as a result, the contamination prevented the Sakens from selling their farm or borrowing against it.

“Bonavista has delineated the impacted area and has commenced a remediation and risk management plan that has been approved by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER),” the statement said.

READ MORE: Energy regulator orders water delivery to Alberta farm contaminated by gas plant

The family had been lobbying the AER to force Bonavista to the negotiating table in order for them to be compensated for the contamination.

Details of the deal reached between the Saken family and Bonavista were not made public but both sides said the issue “has been a difficult situation and the parties are pleased to resolve the matter between them.”

-with files from The Canadian Press