Suncor Energy Inc. confirmed a pipeline carrying industrial waste from a tar sands oil extraction site froze and cracked Monday. Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal told The Globe and Mail newspaper that some waste reached the Athabasca River.
"We don't anticipate any impact on the river," she said. "But as a precautionary measure, we are continuing to analyze river samples downstream from the release."
Water and other environmental concerns have sparked debate over the safety of tar sands oil, a heavier crude oil that's widespread in Alberta.
Canadian researchers published an article in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America saying pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons increased near oil sands developments.
The document says PAH influxes into six lake sediments included in the study were at levels as much as 23 times greater than levels recorded in the 1960s. PAHs have been blamed for agricultural crop and marine species problems. PAHs occur naturally in oil, petroleum products and coal.