NEWS RELEASE · 5th May 2011
Friends of Wild Salmon
Once again a massive pipeline oil spill is raising concerns about the risks of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.
The Rainbow Pipeline in northern Alberta has spilled 4.5 million litres of crude oil into a wetland – the largest oil spill in Alberta since 1975. The spill is 40 percent larger than Enbridge’s pipeline spill in Michigan this past summer.
“This is another black eye for the oil pipeline industry,” said Jennifer Rice with Friends of Wild Salmon. “News of this spill just confirms what most Northwest residents’ already feel: that the risks of the Enbridge proposal are too great.”
The Rainbow pipeline runs about 770 kilometres from Zama to Edmonton, carrying about 187,000 barrels of oil a day last year. It leaked 200,000 litres of oil near Slave Lake in 2006.
“Aging pipelines eventually fail, and oil spills,” said Rice. “It is very difficult to trust Enbridge’s promises about the safety of new pipelines, when so many existing pipelines are failing.”
Officials have indefinitely closed a school near the oil spill site in the Cree community of Little Buffalo after numerous health complaints. Local residents say they are scared to breathe in the fumes from the spilled oil.
“The Northern Gateway Pipeline route goes right through Burns Lake,” said Rice. “In the future that community could see the same kind of health and environmental impacts that people in Little Buffalo are now experiencing.”
Rice also drew attention to the risks to wild salmon habitat in Northwest B.C.
“Much of the route of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is through wild salmon watersheds. A spill this size would likely cause harm to spawning habitat that would basically be irreversible,” said Rice.