March 20, 2017 7:52 pm
Updated: March 21, 2017 7:46 am

Alberta backcountry user groups alarmed after oil spill in Kananaskis Country  

WATCH ABOVE: Husky Energy is continuing its cleanup Monday after an oil spill in Kananaskis Country on Thursday. Global News now has aerial video of the spill. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has the details.

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The cleanup is continuing Monday after an oil spill in Kananaskis Country. The leak was detected in the popular Alberta recreation region on Thursday when a Husky Energy operator discovered oil beside a pipeline.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says the pipeline released crude oil that impacted Cox Hill Creek about 22 kilometres west of Bragg Creek. The leak happened at a gatherin line at Husky’s Moose Mountain operations.

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In a statement, the company said the cleanup is progressing with the use of vacuum trucks and that precautions are being taken to ensure any run-off is diverted around the cleanup area.

In an email sent to Global News, Huskey spokesperson Mel Duvall said there is no flowing water at the location.

“There has been no impact to wildlife and we are conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.”

She said they do not yet have details on the spill volume.

The area is home to many mountain bike and cross-country ski trails. User groups say it is disturbing to hear about an oil spill in a place so many Albertans use for recreation.

“You hear about them a lot up north but just to have something this close to town is a bit surprising,” said Shaun Peter with Bragg Creek and Kananaskis Outdoor Recreation.

Alf Skrastins is with the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association. He says there’s always the concern about natural gas in the area and the potential for water contamination.

“Just the potential of sour gas leakage from the gas wells and the oil… The pipelines do cross a lot of water crossings and things like that so it depends on where it is,” Skrastins said.

Kananaskis Country is split between about 60 per cent protected park area and 40 per cent forest land use zone, which allows for oil and gas extraction, logging and cattle grazing. Skrastins thinks the mix is a good balance but he says more needs to be done to protect the environment on the portion where industry is at work.

“The province doesn’t put a lot of money or effort into the recreation side of the forest land use zone. They don’t put a huge amount of money or effort into the environmental protection side, either,” Skrastins said.

Shaun Peters has been fighting against ongoing logging plans in Kananaskis Country. He says public pressure has played a role in preserving the environment there and encourages people to learn more about what development is being planned for the area.

“A lot of the forest and the popular areas have been untouched and people assume that it’s protected in there. [They’re] shocked when they see the logging trucks come in,” Peters said.

Husky said there were no injuries and there was been no impact to wildlife.

AER staff are on site assessing the incident and said they are working with the company to ensure all safety and environmental requirements are met during the response.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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