Oil spill taints season for summer businesses

Area businesses are facing turbulent waters following the oil spill that fouled banks along the Red Deer River and the Gleniffer Lake reservoir earlier this month.

Area businesses are facing turbulent waters following the oil spill that fouled banks along the Red Deer River and the Gleniffer Lake reservoir earlier this month.

But the Sundre District Chamber of Commerce stresses that it is business as usual in Sundre.

Sherry Tytkanych, president of the Sundre and District Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that some businesses have been contacting them because clients have been cancelling reservations to campsites or for activities such as whitewater rafting and fishing.

“But the companies which have made these calls are out west,” Tytkanych said.

“They’re nowhere near the oil spill.”

On June 7, up to 3,000 barrels (475,000 litres) of light sour crude oil was released into the Red Deer River from a ruptured Plains Midstream pipeline about one kilometre north of Sundre.

The oil from the spill made its way to Gleniffer Lake — a popular recreational area southwest of Red Deer.

Tytkanych says the chamber’s plan is to work with an advertising agency to get the word out in Saskatchewan, B.C. and Alberta that the businesses in the Sundre area are in working order.

Meanwhile, Plains Midstream Canada continues to clean up the spill.

The company reported on Monday to have close to 338 response personnel on the site who continue to remove oiled debris.

There is still a 24-hour guard keeping people away from the spill sites near Township Road 331A and Township Road 340, locations north of Sundre, said Wayne and Ila Johnston.

The Johnstons’ farmland runs to the banks of the Red Deer River. They say they received a $350 cheque from Plains Midstream Canada by mail on Wednesday but there was no letter detailing what it was for.

They disposed of the cheque.

“They think that it is OK to send us money without putting any reason for it,” Ila said.

“A number means very little.”

The Johnstons say more needs to be done to ensure the integrity of the 46-year-old pipeline that was last inspected in 2009.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com