Edmonton, Alberta – Residents in the Peace Region of North Alberta are reporting health issues following an oil pipeline leak last Friday.
The leak from a Plains All American pipeline was one of the largest in the province’s history, spilling nearly 30,000 barrels of oil into Lubicon traditional territory. Residents in Little Buffalo, including school children, continue to experience nausea, burning eyes and headaches.
Residents of the Lubicon Cree First Nation said that instead of attending a community meeting, the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) faxed a one-page fact sheet to the Little Buffalo School, indicating that 4,500 cubic metres of crude oil had spread into “nearby stands of stagnant water.” The spill, which occurred at 7:30 a.m. on April 29, 3011, occurred only 300 metres from local waterways, community members said. The ERCB said that the spill has been contained, but the community reports that oil is still leaking into the surrounding forest and bog.
“The company and the ERCB have given us little information in the past five days,” said Chief Steve Noskey. “What we do know is that the health of our community is at stake. Our children cannot attend school until there is a resolution. The ERCB is not being accountable to our community; they did not even show up to our community meeting to inform us of the unsettling situation we are dealing with. The company is failing to provide sufficient information to us so we can ensure that the health and safety of our community is protected.”
In its fact sheet, the ERCB said that air monitors are in place on site and have “detected no hydrocarbon levels above Alberta Ambient Air Quality guidelines.”
“The Plains All American spill marks the second pipeline spill in Alberta in just a week, with Kinder Morgan spilling just days before,” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner in Alberta. “This is an alarm bell for Alberta residents. If this 45-year-old pipeline were to break elsewhere along its route there would be more safety and health hazards.”