Pipeline reopens; leaky pumping station stays closed

An Enbridge Inc. pipeline network that is the site of another northern Alberta oil spill has been reopened, but the pumping station that was the cause of the 230,000-litre leak remains shuttered.

ELK POINT — An Enbridge Inc. pipeline network that is the site of another northern Alberta oil spill has been reopened, but the pumping station that was the cause of the 230,000-litre leak remains shuttered.

The approval was granted Tuesday at about 11:45 p.m., said Darin Barter, spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates pipelines within Alberta.

“Our approval to restart was granted after the company met a number of conditions,” he said Wednesday.

The spill near Elk Point occurred because of a failed gasket. Enbridge (TSX:ENB) must inspect all gaskets at other pumping stations on that pipeline, examine the pumping station within 30 days and file a quality assurance plan to the board for all similar gaskets, Barter said.

“We want to ensure that they have the opportunity to look at all the gaskets or similar sites on that pipeline network,” Barter said. “They have submitted a preliminary synopsis of how they’ll do that.”

Barter said the leak occurred in a field and didn’t get into any standing water or waterways.

Graham White of Enbridge said in an email that the cleanup is going well.

“The release is almost completely contained to our site with no wildlife or water impacts,” he said.

White said because the line has been restarted, bypassing the station, there is no impact to shippers.

Steve Upham, reeve of the County of St. Paul where the pumping station is located, said he has been in touch with the company.

“Spills are always a concern, but at this point (impacts) are going to be minimal,” he said.

Upham, who spoke before he saw the site, said he’s been told the oil has been contained within a soil berm around the pumping station. A small amount sprayed over the berm onto an adjacent farmer’s land.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any sustained or serious damage.”

The area is mostly bush and ranching country, said Upham.

The spill is the second significant one in Alberta recently. Earlier this month, up to 475,000 litres of oil leaked from a pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada into the Red Deer River in central Alberta and flowed into the Gleniffer Lake reservoir.

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