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Husky Energy pipeline shut in after 900,000 litres of produced water leaks in northern Alberta

Alberta Energy Regulator field team. Credit: AER

Husky Energy says 900,000 litres of produced water spilled from one of its pipelines in northwestern Alberta.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction and sometimes contains residual petroleum and chemicals.

The Alberta Energy Regulator said cleanup efforts are underway after the pipeline leaked into a low-lying wetland, about 15 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake.

In 2019, the regulator told Global News that “the impact of produced water is extremely variable depending on the concentration of oil and whether the substance is ‘sweet’ or ‘sour.'”

In an emailed statement to Global News on Tuesday, Husky Energy said the produced water release was discovered in the Rainbow Lake area during a daily inspection on Monday morning.

“Some of the water entered nearby muskeg,” a company spokesperson said. “The pipeline was immediately shut in and the Alberta Energy Regulator was notified.

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“Cleanup efforts are underway, including the use of pumps and vacuum trucks.”

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Husky said there have been “no observed impacts to wildlife and fencing is in place to keep wildlife from the area.”

“Husky’s first priority is the safety of its people, and the protection of the environment in the communities we operate in,” the spokesperson added. “We are undertaking a thorough investigation of this incident.”

On Wednesday, the AER told Global News it continues to review the cause of the leak and the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“If we determine that Husky is not in compliance with our requirements, we have a number of compliance and enforcement tools to bring them back into compliance,” the AER said.

A spill of 500,000 litres was initially reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator, but company spokesperson Dawn Delaney said the amount was increased after an initial investigation.

The energy regulator said environmental contractors are at the site.

— With files from Canadian Press