Low risk, high volume from Alberta spill

June 29, 2011 at 9:37 AM
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CALGARY, Alberta, June 29 (UPI) -- It's too early to predict the environmental impact of an oil spill in Alberta, though regulators say the volume of fluid has doubled from original estimates.

The official estimate of the amount of fluid leaked into Judy Creek in northern Alberta was around 500 barrels. The Energy Resources Conservation Board said the estimated volume has doubled to 1,000 barrels.

Darin Barter, a spokesman for the ERCB, told the Calgary Herald, however, that only 3 percent of the fluid was oil. The rest, the spokesman said, was water laden with salts and other materials.

Provincial agency Alberta Environment said heavy rains diluted most of the salts contained in the fluid mixture that leaked from the 8-inch pipeline operated by Pengrowth Energy.

"It's still too early to say what the environmental impact will be," Alberta Environment spokesman Trevor Gemmell was quoted as saying. "However, in this case because the vast majority of the release was salt water, we expect less impact on the environment than had the release been made up entirely of hydrocarbons."

Wassem Khalil, a spokesman for Pengrowth, told the Herald his company wasn't ready to reveal the details of the leak. "The important thing is it was caught fairly quickly and the response time was sufficient that we were able to contain the spill," he said.

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