News Release: Alberta Pipeline Spill Report Misses Environmental Impacts
February 22, 2017
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has released a Pipeline Performance Report identifying recent Alberta pipeline spills by company. Although the new report is a step forward in transparency, it does not reveal annual or multi-year spill counts in highly significant environmental areas or on First Nations and Metis lands. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) believes the AER must release more pipeline spill information reflecting its responsibility to protect land and water in sensitive and significant areas.
“While it is positive to see the performance of companies through their pipeline spill frequency and consequence ratings, it’s not enough,” says Nick Pink, AWA Conservation Specialist. “The cumulative impacts to the environment and First Nations in areas affected by pipeline spills must be monitored, evaluated, and reduced. The public should be better informed of the damages of these incidents and the effectiveness of remediation.”
Pipeline spill data for the following key areas should be reported by year and cumulatively: habitat of provincial and federal species at risk, protected areas and parks, First Nation reserves and Metis settlement areas, headwaters, wetlands, and Class A and B water bodies. To better reflect ecological value and align with regulatory policy, ‘wetlands’ should be the term used instead of ‘muskeg or stagnant water’. Spill impacts and frequency should also be assessed by natural region and provincial land use region to identify areas of particular environmental risk to be focused on for future incident reduction.
The AER has a mandate to regulate Alberta’s energy industry to ensure responsible development of Alberta’s natural resources. The mandate includes a legal responsibility to regulate energy resource activities in a way that protects the environment.
Earlier this month, AWA called upon the AER to strengthen pipeline spill transparency and oversight based on the findings on Dene Tha traditional territory by scientist Kevin Timoney. That investigation found that Alberta’s pipeline spill records are unreliable, generally overstate spill volume recovery rates, and understate harmful impacts on wildlife and their habitat. These discrepancies continue to raise questions about Alberta’s pipeline spill cleanup certification processes.
For more information:
Nick Pink, Alberta Wilderness Association, (403) 283-2025