The Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Board has filed charges against oil company Plains Midstream Canada over the April 2011 oil spill in Alberta State, days before the end of a legal statute which prevents such charges being brought once two years have passed expired. The incident was the second largest such event in the State's history, releasing 4.5 million litres of light crude from the Rainbow Pipeline which contaminated eight acres of bogland and beaver ponds. If the court upholds the charges the company could face Can$1.5 million in fines (~US$1.46 million).
Cleanup operation on the Peace River in Alberta in April 2011. Global Possibilities.
The leak occurred when a sleeve placed over a corroded section of the 45-year-old pipeline failed, due to a weld failure. Papers obtained by environmental group Greenpeace using Canada's freedom of information legislation revealed that inspectors from the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Board found that the weld had not been properly inspected before the pipeline was reburied, and that correct procedures were not followed during this process, leading to poorly compacted soil around the pipeline, placing additional stress upon the weld.
The papers further reveal that the inspectors recommended a public enquiry into the spill, but that this was blocked by senior managers. Environmental groups in Alberta have accused authorities of being too close to the industry, claiming that several more spills have occurred in the state since the Rainbow Pipeline spill, which a public enquiry might have helped to prevent, and that ministers had worked with oil executives to draw up environmental regulations favorable to the industry. Newspapers in Alberta are claiming that the charges were only brought against Plains Mainstream Canada in response to the Greenpeace report, though the Environmental and Sustainable Resource Development Board Deny this.
The Rainbow Pipeline carries around 187 000 barrels of light crude per day, between a terminal at Zama in the north and the city of Edmonton to the south.
See also Homes evacuated after Arkansas oil leak, Oil spill on the Red Deer River, The effects of oil sands mining on wetlands in northern Alberta and Industrialization of the East Canadian Tundra blamed for 90% drop in Caribou numbers.
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.