More than 270 involved in cleanup effort

A swarm of workers hustle and bustle along the Red Deer River shoreline to clean up oil residue as fall approaches.

A swarm of workers hustle and bustle along the Red Deer River shoreline to clean up oil residue as fall approaches.

Over the past two weeks, 270 workers from approximately 20 different companies have been working at various sites along the Red Deer River.

They are trying to clean up the mess that resulted in 3,000 barrels (475,000 litres) of light sour crude oil being released from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline about one km north of Sundre earlier in June, said Mountain View County Councillor Paddy Munro.

“The workers along the river bank, you can tell they are just people working at a job and trying to do the best they can,” he said.

While some local businesses have been hurt by the spill, there also have been short-term economic spinoffs for other local people and businesses in the area.

Marty Butts, who grew up in the area, said he can see both sides of the equation. He feels for the landowners and businesses that have suffered from the spill, but also says that Plaines Midstream Canada has spent a lot of money contracting out services needed for the cleanup.

“Some businesses benefited hugely and others have lost hugely,” he said.

“But there are a lot of people out there, a lot of young people with first-time jobs helping to put this back to the original state.”

Butts is one of many workers who decided to help with the cleanup in what he calls, his “backyard.” He said Plains was short on boat operators and he has been shuttling crews and equipment to sites along the river since the spill.

“Being from the area, and knowing the river and owning a jet boat, I stepped up.”

He said his employer, Husky Energy, allowed him to take a month off closer to the time of the spill to donate time for the cleanup. More recently, he lends a hand on the river on his days off.

In an information update, Plains reports that the workers continue to maintain the integrity of the booms on the reservoir, cut and bag oily vegetation, pick up shoreline debris, flush log jams, replace absorbent pads and hand wash rocks.

Helicopters are also being used to remove the debris collected by the workers. Over one week, 200 bags of debris were removed from the shoreline and approximately 210,740 work-hours have supported the response and cleanup.

The Advocate contacted Plains Midstream Canada on Tuesday and Wednesday for comment about its work and was ultimately told that a spokesperson wouldn’t be available until next week.

Local oilfield construction companies have also been working at the pipeline release site. A segment of the pipe has been removed from the west side of the river and has been signed over to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, the Plains update states.

“They drew from a lot of companies,” Butts said.

“They are doing a heck of a job and are not cutting any corners from what I can see.”

Contact was made with Tervita Environmental Services and Waste Management, an environmental and energy services company working on site, but the Advocate was later told by Tervita communications personnel that Plains Midstream Canada would like all further media inquiries to go through them.

Also contributing to the frenzy along the shoreline, of course, is the presence of regulatory agencies such as Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB).

According to Plains’ update, cleanup has been completed at approximately half of the river sites and it will work with Alberta Environment to ensure environmental standards.

Jessica Potter, spokesperson for Alberta Environment, said the agency will complete the assessments of about a dozen cleanup sites this week. She said the assessments are site-specific.

“That could mean no visible sheen, no viscus oil on debris and in the river,” she said.

The sites are taken case-by-case because sometimes the impact of removing oil in areas could be worse for the environment than leaving it to biodegrade, she said.

Alberta Environment officials hope to have all the sites they have established inspected before fall freeze up.

Meanwhile, the ERCB is monitoring waste removal and the removal of the 46-year-old pipe.

Whether it be from multiple companies contributing with cleanup and pipe removal, or regulatory agencies with different approaches and standards, the undertaking is massive.

And this shows that a spill of this kind just can’t happen again, said Mountain View County reeve Bruce Beattie.

“This activity is pretty significant,” he said.

Plains estimated in an Aug. 9 Plains All American quarterly report that it will spend upwards of $53 million with cleanup and remediation.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read