Crude Oil, Salt Water Contaminate Waskada Area Farmland after Tundra Oil Spill

Posted in: Crisis Response, Fracking, Global Water News, Water Contamination
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Tundra Oil and Gas is removing contaminated soil after a flowline broke in the Waskada area early last month, spilling about 1200 barrels of a mixture of crude oil and salt water on farmland. (Photo Credit: Bert Savard/CBC)

Article courtesy of CBC News | March 18, 2015 | CBC News | Shared as educational material

Winnipeg-based Tundra Oil and Gas is cleaning up a spill that contaminated farmland near the town of Waskada early last month.

President Ken Neufeld said the company made the discovery on Feb. 5 during one of the aerial tours it conducts to check its operations.

He says about 200 cubic metres, or about 1,200 barrels of a mixture of crude oil and salt water spilled due to “internal corrosion” that broke a line underneath farmland the company pays a right of way for.

Neufeld said the company has cut out about 200 metres of pipe and tested the rest of the line and have come to the conclusion the problems were confined to the low-lying area where the break occurred.

He says up to a hectare of farmland was contaminated as a result. Neufeld says the company notified the landowner right away.

“Definitely, that’s the first people we – well, maybe the second people we get in touch with – we get in touch with the [province’s] petroleum branch first, the regulator,” he said.

He said it’s unexpected that the break happened where it did since it’s a relatively new line.

The company began remediation right away, he said.

“For the most part what we’re doing is removing the contaminated soil and we’ll have to replace it with clean soil.”

He said it’s a “large enough” project but doesn’t have an estimate on how much it will cost the company.

The clean-up is well underway, he said.

“I think by the end of this week we should have the soil that we want to have removed, we should have removed it and it will take some time, particularly during breakup, we’ll probably stop the trucking. The weight restrictions are on the roads before we haul new soil in. That will probably be delayed until the weight restrictions come off.”

Neufeld said he didn’t expect Tundra would face any fines or penalties because of the spill.

“We detected it because of the aerial surveillance we hire to fly our lines on a regular basis,” he said. “We were trying to act prudently and so they don’t fine you for that.”

He conceded the incident is a “headache”

“Oh, it is. Absolutely. It’s a significant project. But fluid migrates very quickly and you have to remove all of it,” he said. “We have to go as deep as the contamination is. Typically it comes to surface. It doesn’t go down. It’s more like a sponge effect.”

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