Alberta Oil Spill: 924,000 Gallons and Rising

Some terrible news out of Canada, and more evidence that the oil industry needs fundamental reform. From the Globe and Mail:

CALGARY – A huge pipeline spill has released 22,000 barrels of oil and water into muskeg in the far northwest of Alberta.

The spill ranks among the largest in North America in recent years, a period that has seen a series of high-profile accidents that have undermined the energy industry’s safety record. The Enbridge Inc. pipeline rupture that leaked oil near Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, for example, spilled an estimated 19,500 barrels.

Disaster response crews are working round the clock to contain the damage, but the oil has already covered more than 25 acres of muskeg — or peat bogs — near Rainbow Lake. 22,000 barrels contains almost a million gallons, threatening a wild ecosystem that is already under pressure from the industry..

Similar to the shoddy oversight that magnified the damage caused by Enbridge’s Kalamazoo spill, this one went unnoticed by the company (Pace Oil & Gas Ltd.) for hours. It was only thanks to random luck that a different company spotted the rupture during a plane flight over the area, and alerted Pace Ltd..

The Canadian government has been poisoning gray wolves to make room for oil and gas development (photo: flickr/Sakarri)

Big Oil and Wildlife Don’t Mix

Industrial development in Alberta has already caused the destruction of much of the boreal forest, leading to a rapid decline in woodland caribou populations and a mind-bogglingly irresponsible campaign to poison and shoot hundreds of gray wolves. Meanwhile, the government has done everything in its power to encourage this reckless approach — becoming the world’s biggest cheerleader for tar sands oil and giving Canada’s green reputation two black eyes.

As Alberta’s oil industry tries to muscle its way through the United States with dangerous projects like Keystone XL and the Trailbreaker pipeline in New England, it’s worth asking “do they actually know what they’re doing?” From all the evidence (including at least 12 spills from the original “Keystone 1” pipeline) it’s becoming clear that accidents happen with alarming frequency. But hey, when you stand to make more than a trillion dollars from shipping your product overseas, what does it matter if you leak a few thousand barrels here or there?

Wildlife and much more is on the line in this fight, and you can help.  Tell Congress to stand up for wildlife, and say NO to Keystone XL and tar sands.Take Action