The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and Alberta Environment and Water responded to a produced water spill near Marshead Creek. The incident occurred at a Daylight Energy pipeline on Saturday February 4, 2012.
Clean-up was still in progress on Friday, Feb. 10. “Measures are in place to mitigate downstream effects if necessary. No adverse effects have been observed or reported within Marshead Creek,” said Trevor Gemmell, media spokesperson for Alberta Environment and Water.
How big is it?
Neither, Alberta Environment and Water, nor the Environmental Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), were willing to confirm or characterize the size of the spill.
Bob Curran, ERCB communications spokesperson, explained, “Initial estimates are too often inaccurate.” Before a volume determination can be made official, authorities will compare the company’s estimate to recovery volume, subsequent inspections and facility data, he explained.
A source, near the spill site, estimated 300 cubic metres, “It’ a hell of a mess out there.”
In 2010, produced water spill volume in Alberta totaled 24,574 cubic metres. If the source’s estimate is accurate, and Fox in FOCUS’s math is correct, the Marshead Creek spill would compare to approximately one-eightieth, or 1.2 per cent of last year’s total.
When asked about the environmental risks and potential consequences, Curran said, “I’m not a scientist, but,” he continued, “anything transported in a pipeline doesn’t belong on the ground.”
The effects of produced water spills “include the destruction of soil textures, deep erosion, stress or death of vegetation, and salinization of local surface and ground water.” (Source: “Improving Cleanup of Contamination from Oil and Gas Production.” : USGS science for a changing world. Feb. 2012 )
Alberta Environment and Water reported there was no risk to the nearby Athabasca River but added, “Daylight Energy has consulted an aquatic biologist”.
Pipeline failure statistics
According to the ERCB Field Surveillance and Operations Branch Summary 2010, there are 400,000 km of pipeline in Alberta. The province reported 687 pipeline failures (1.6 per 1000 km,) which varied from small leaks to large ruptures.
Almost half of all pipeline failures are attributed to internal corrosion. Construction related failures, external corrosion and contact damage are the next highest contributors.
Short and long-term expectations
Every spill is investigated to determine its cause and to identify preventive measures that may be required, of the licensee, to reduce the chances of a recurrence.
Daylight Energy will continue to work with the ERCB, and other government agencies, to monitor soil and water contamination and ensure all appropriate standards for remediation are achieved.
The ERCB continues to investigate.
Last fall, Daylight Energy and its oil and shale-gas reserves were purchased by the China Petrochemical Corp., China’s largest refiner, also known as Sinopec Group.Print This Post