ZAMA CITY, Alta. – The owner of a pipeline that leaked a large amount of industrial waste water into a northern Alberta wetland says wildlife in the area doesn’t seem to have been affected.
“There are no visible impacts on wildlife,” Marc Douglas, spokesman for Apache Canada Ltd., said Friday.
Alberta regulators estimate that 9.5 million litres of waste water were spilled near Zama City in northwestern Alberta. The spill covers 42 hectares with water that contains salt, oil and minerals.
There are 160 workers backed up by specialized equipment cleaning up the site, Douglas said in an emailed response to questions. The spilled water is being removed, tested and treated.
“Wildlife, amphibian and vegetation studies are underway by an extensive environmental remediation team and analytics are being compiled,” Douglas said.
Aboriginals in the area have said all vegetation in the spill area, from grass to trees, is dead.
Douglas said the spilled fluid from the five-year-old pipeline was 99 per cent water.
“The water we collect will be further treated to ensure it meets water quality standards before it is released back into the environment.”
Apache is investigating the cause of the leak.
“While our priority right now is remediation and restoration, we will investigate the cause and develop a solution that will prevent this sort of thing (from happening) again.”
The reason for the leak will be disclosed, said Douglas, who added that Apache told regulators about the breach June 1 when it was detected.
The spill is one of the largest in recent memory. Members of the Dene Tha’ band say it is so large it raises questions about how long the pipeline that carries water used in oil and natural gas operations had been leaking.
They say the waste water has runinto a stream that runs through a small aboriginal community and onto land used by band members to hunt and trap.
Douglas said Apache is consulting with the band and keeping members up-to-date on the cleanup
Alberta Environment, which is monitoring the efforts, says it’s too early to know if charges will be laid.