Watershed projects to receive some money from pipeline leak fines

Distribution of fines for a Calgary-based company responsible for spills at Sundre and Little Buffalo has been settled, including $380,000 made available to fund restoration and improvement projects.

Distribution of fines for a Calgary-based company responsible for spills at Sundre and Little Buffalo has been settled, including $380,000 made available to fund restoration and improvement projects.

Early in June, Plains Midstream Canada was ordered to pay $1.3 million in fines and restitution in connection with two separate pipeline breaks.

Plains Midstream had pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court early to charges laid after a pipeline ruptured near Little Buffalo, a small community near Peace River, in April of 2011. The company also pleaded guilty to charges laid after a pipeline failed under the Red Deer River, downstream from Sundre, in June of 2012.

In Red Deer provincial court on Thursday, Judge Jim Hunter made an order approving a plan that lays out how the money is to be distributed:

*In connection with the Sundre spill, the company will pay $20,000 in fines to the federal government and provide $380,000 to the federal Environmental Damage Fund. Hunter ordered that the EDF give priority to projects within the Red Deer River watershed in distributing those funds. The money is available to eligible non-profit groups and to municipal and provincial governments, but not for any business or commercial applications.

*Also in connection with Sundre, the company will pay $225,000 in fines to the province. In addition, it will provide $157,800 to the Alberta Conservation Association for a variety of projects in the watershed between Sundre and Red Deer as well as $67,200 to University of Lethbridge researcher Stewart Rood for a reclamation project in the area affected by the spill.

*In connection with the Little Buffalo spill, the company will pay $225,000 in fines to the province and will provide $225,000 to the Alberta Conservation Association for projects at the Joker Lake Fishery and Reinwood Lake conservation site. Any money left over can be used for other ACA projects in the area.

Hunter stated in making his order that efforts should be made to ensure that members of the public are made aware that funds will be available for environmental projects within the Red Deer River watershed.

He gave Plains Midstream until July 30 to pay.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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