CALGARY – An energy company with a troubled safety history is facing seven charges related to a pipeline spill that leaked roughly 1.8 million litres of contaminated water in a remote area of northwestern Alberta.
Apache Canada Ltd. has been charged under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Public Lands Act and the Pipeline Act for the October 2013 spill near Zama City that leaked a mix of water, salt, oil and minerals onto more than 3.8 hectares of land.
Alberta Energy Regulator spokesman Ryan Bartlett says the company faces a maximum penalty of $3.1 million for all charges.
Earlier this year, the regulator fined the company the maximum administrative penalty of $16,500 and issued four orders to improve pipeline safety after it conducted a comprehensive investigation into Apache for failing to follow regulations.
The regulator says that between June 2013 and October 2014 the Texas-based company had six pipeline incidents that caused loss or damage to public lands and potential environmental impact.
And between 2009 and late 2013, the company had 12 high-risk enforcement actions against it for non-compliance with pipeline regulations.
Apache spokesman Paul Wyke said that while the company wouldn’t comment on the charges because they’re before the courts, it has been implementing recommendations to improve pipeline safety and is complying with the regulator’s orders.
“Apache has been working closely with the AER to meet its obligations and ensure the integrity of Apache-operated pipelines,” Wyke said in an emailed statement.
The AER is still investigating an additional Apache pipeline spill from January 2014 that released 1.6 million litres of industrial waste water near Whitecourt, Alta.
Apache’s first court appearance on the charges is scheduled for Dec. 7 in Provincial Court in High Level, Alta.