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Tue, 2014-08-26 16:35Guest
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Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call For Canada’s Mining Industry

Mount Polley Mine Spill

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an “extremely rare” occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here.

He failed to mention the 46 “dangerous or unusual occurrences” that B.C’s chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites.

This spill was predictable. Concerns were raised about Mount Polley before the breach. CBC reported that B.C.’s Environment Ministry issued several warnings about the amount of water in the pond to mine owner Imperial Metals.

With 50 mines operating in B.C.— and many others across Canada — we can expect more incidents, unless we reconsider how we’re extracting resources.

Mon, 2013-12-02 12:08Carol Linnitt
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Third Apache Pipeline Leak Releases Additional 1.8 Million Litres of Produced Water in Northern Alberta

A third leak recently discovered on Apache Canada’s property near Zama City in northwestern Alberta has released an estimated 1.8 million litres of wastewater onto 5 hectares of land, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

The spill was discovered on Friday, October 25th after an operator investigated a volume discrepancy at Apache’s Shekilie site, reports the Northern Journal. The leak is believed to have begun on October 3rd, according to Apache.

The released water is a waste product of Apache’s oil and gas operations in the area. Apache characterizes its operations near Zama as using “a novel enhanced oil recovery method to produce oil from what were once thought to be exhausted wells.”

Reports of the release came just one week after Apache announced it had discerned the cause of a much larger incident that occurred in June, spilling 15.4 million litres of produced water in a 42-hectare area. 

Thu, 2013-06-27 17:51Carol Linnitt
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Breaking: "Huff and Puff" Technology Results in Bitumen Spill, Water Contamination at Cold Lake Tar Sands Project

cold lake bitumen tar sand oil spil primrose project CNRL

Authorities in the tar sands region in Alberta are responding to the release of bitumen emulsion at the Primrose project in the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, operated by Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL).

According to a press release from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) “the affect area is off lease and has impacted a nearby slough. The company has begun clean-up operations. There were no injuries as a result of the release. The volume of emulsion released has not been confirmed at this time.” Media relations contacts were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Bitumen emulsion is a mixture of heavy tar sands crude know as bitumen and water from in-situ (in ground) oil production.

According to the CNRL website, the company uses a “huff and puff” technology also known as Cyclic Steam Stiumulation or CSS to develop bitumen at the Primrose project.

Tue, 2013-06-25 13:20Derek Leahy
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Line 9 Pipeline Deficiencies Concerns Landowner Associations

Line 9 Enbridge

Line 9 was built at the wrong time with the wrong materials, and forms part of a pipeline system in which ruptures and leaks on very similar pipes have happened on a fairly regular basis,” stated Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association (OPLA) lawyer John Goudy in his final argument at the Line 9A hearing in London, Ontario in May 2012.

The 37-year old Line 9 pipeline runs from Sarnia to Montreal. The pipeline's operator – Enbridge – wants to increase the capacity of Line 9 from 250 000 barrels per day (bpd) to 300 000 bpd. Enbridge also wants to ship 'heavy crude' such as bitumen from the Alberta tar sands through Line 9.

Line 9 is almost identical in age and design to the Enbridge pipeline at the centre of the largest inland oil spill in US history – Line 6B of the Kalamazoo spill in Michigan. The 41-year old Line 6B pipeline ruptured in 2010, spilling over 800 000 gallons (3 million litres) of bitumen into the Kalamazoo River and the surrounding area. The cleanup is still going on and could cost up to one billion (US) dollars.  

We are not anti-pipeline or anti-oil. We just want respect for our livelihoods and safe pipelines,” says Dave Core founding president of the Canadian Association of Energy Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA).

Fri, 2013-01-25 13:09Carol Linnitt
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Two Oil Spills in Alberta Due to Inadequate Monitoring

Companies responsible for two separate oil spills in Alberta failed to provide adequate oversight for their operations, according to federal government documents released by Environment Canada through Access to Information legislation.

The documents detail how Devon Canada and Gibson Energy violated environmental laws, including the federal Fisheries Act, when their operations cause two oil spills into fish-bearing waterways in 2010.

Gibson Energy, a midstream pipeline operator, spilled a few hundred litres of oil into an Edmonton creek after failing to properly abandon an unused pipeline. According to a warning letter issued to the company from Environment Canada, “Gibson Energy ULC made a business decision to keep the Kinder Morgan lateral full of crude oil and to not purge it with nitrogen.”

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