Oil Pipeline Breaks Fouling Alberta’s Red River


B. McPherson

An oil pipeline broke in Alberta dumping about 3000 barrels of sour crude oil into the Red River. The small town of Sundre shut down its water wells when they were alerted to the spill. The spill was noted by a non-profit group who smelled the oil traveling in the river and notified the owner of this pipeline, Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of an American company. Apparently the drop in pipeline pressure didn’t trigger any safety alarm. They do have a toll free emergency hotline. This company had a large release of oil from a pipeline April 29th of last year which allowed millions of gallons of oil into the soil and waterways.

The foreign owned company has cleaned up all “recoverable” oil. The name of the pipeline is Rainbow, you know, like the rainbows you see on an oil slick. This same company wants to twin this pipeline.

Mother Nature has been blamed for the oil spill. It seems that heavy rains washed soil away that covered the pipe allowing it to bend and break.

Today’s oil spill has traveled to a reservoir/lake on the Red River which serves as a drinking water source for at least 100 000 people. Moves have been made to supply drinking water to some of the small communities that draw water directly from the river.

While Alberta politicians and oil men seek to put the best possible light on yet another preventable fouling of the environment, that story is not going down well with local residents who have witnessed a series of leaks in recent years.


Plains Midstream Canada says light sour crude oil has a strong petroleum odour but it does not pose a health or safety risk to the public. CBC Canada


While those in charge of the cleanup say basically, “no harm done” people need to take the discharge of sour petroleum into their environment and especially drinking water very seriously. Some of the compounds present in the oil are: hydrogen sulphide – a toxic gas, paraffin, naphthalene – used to kill moths, benzene – a known carcinogen.

This latest in a series of Alberta oil fouling the surrounding of their pipelines, gives more determination to those seeking to keep them out of British Columbia. The route chosen by Enbridge Corporation to transport the black gold to tankers is through the Rockies(where they get snow melt and rain), earthquake zones, and unstable land formations. Enbridge tells the public that all modern safety precautions will be taken. The examples we are seeing coming from Alberta gives the defenders of the environment little comfort indeed.

As far as pipelines go, remember OPAL – Oil Pipelines Always Leak.

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