|Northern Alberta pipeline was only five years old before massive 2.5 million gallon toxic spill.|
The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure.
"Every plant and tree died" in the area touched by the spill, said James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, whose members run traplines in an area that has seen oil and gas development since the 1950s.
Neither Apache nor Alberta initially disclosed the spill, which was only made public after someone reported it to a TV station late last week. Bob Curran, a spokesman for the ERCB, defended the late release of information, saying it took 10 days to determine the size of the spill. "The second we knew the volumes, we put out a news release," he said. Asked how it could take so long to determine the severity of a large spill, he said Wednesday: "We didn't know it was over 42 hectares. We found that out last night." [Globe and Mail]