Cleanup efforts inspected

Provincial and federal regulators are back on site this week inspecting oil spill cleanup efforts on the Red Deer River.

Provincial and federal regulators are back on site this week inspecting oil spill cleanup efforts on the Red Deer River.

Eight sites remediated by Plains Midstream were inspected by regulators about two weeks ago and the latest visits are a follow-up to that work. Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resources Development departments, the Energy Resources Conservation Board and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans are involved.

Plains Midstream said in recent information update that more than half of the sites downstream of the spill north of Sundre have been remediated.

About 3,000 barrels (475,000 litres) of light sour crude oil spilled from a pipeline under the Red Deer River in June.

Since then, hundreds of workers have been involved in a cleanup effort that could cost upwards of $50 million.

Early last week, the last remaining section of pipeline at the spill site was removed from the east side of the river.

“The entire segment of the failed pipe is still being examined and the investigation into the cause of the release is underway,” said a Wednesday email from Plains Midstream.

Once the pipeline work is complete, the company will focus on restoring the riverbed.

The company has already completed reclamation at the Cottonwood day use area, which served as an incident command post. The road was compacted, fields aerated and seeded and dozens of trees planted. The day use area will be reopened to the public next spring.

A water sampling program has been scaled back as tested water remains within Alberta guidelines, said the company.

Results from a fish tissue sampling program are expected by the end of the month.

The province announced catch-and-release restrictions in early August.

A zero-harvest restriction will be in place for the remainder of the 2012 to 2013 angling season to allow officials to assess fish populations and aquatic ecosystem health.

Plains Midstream plans to release its next full update on Sept. 14.

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