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UPDATE: First photograph of the Apache Spill near Zama City, Alberta Canada
Apache Oil's leases in Alberta Canada. Site of the spill is in their Northwest oil field.
ZAMA CITY, Alta. - A pipeline operated by Houston-based Apache has spilled 9.5 million litres of toxic industrial waste water in wetlands area of northern Alberta on June 1, 2013.

it was only made public when someone alerted a local TV station. To explain the delay, the Alberta Energy Regulator claimed it took 10 days to determine the size of the spill. The industry and the government called it salt water but the local Dene tribe claim the "toxic substance contains hydrocarbons, high levels of salt, sulphurous compounds, metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials, along with chemical solvents and additives used by the oil industry."

It is located in a muskeg or wetland area, habitat of birds, lynx, woodland bison, wolves, moose, woodland caribou.

wetlands around Zama City
The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure.

Alberta’s had an average of two crude oil spills a day, every day for the past 37 years.

That makes 28,666 crude oil spills in total, plus another 31,453 spills of just about any other substance you can think of putting in a pipeline – from [toxic] salt water to liquid petroleum.

Apache spill is one of Alberta's largest pipeline ruptures
Nearly a dozen days after the fact, Alberta's tardy energy regulator has reported that a ruptured pipeline owned by Apache has spilled nearly 60,000 barrels of contaminated water near Zama City, Alberta.

A pipeline carrying "produced water" from an oil field to a waste injection site broke on June 1, contaminating 42 hectares of muskeg.

Produced water can be highly saline and contain a variety of petroleum toxins as well as heavy metals.

Neither Apache nor the regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), has released any information on the toxicity of the produced water or why the pipeline failed. 

This spill is over and above The Dirty Business of Moving Oil.The Pipeline Observer reports 10 oil spills in 30 days in North America.
Greenpeace calls the leak one of the largest of its type in Canadian history.

Keith Stewart, a Greenpeace spokesman, said this kind of waste water is full of toxic compounds.

"This is a massive spill of toxics into one of the most important wetlands in Canada, if not the world," he said from Toronto. "The government shouldn't be trying to hide these kinds of things."

Photo credit: Robert Chamberland
Zama City is a hamlet ("City" is an irony) administered by Mackenzie County. It is located approximately 115 km in a straight line (150 km by road) northwest of High Level. It is a service centre for the Zama oil field, which is possibly the largest oil and gas field in the province. According to the 2011 Census of Canada, there are 93 permanent residents in Zama City, but the hamlet often supports a transient workforce population approaching 4,000 people


DeSmog weighs in
Alberta Government Mum on Fracking Company's Industrial Leak
This most recent spill's location makes independent observations difficult to carry out, but that doesn’t mitigate the environmental consequences. Though sparsely populated, the area surrounding Zama City is a marshy wetland that is a key habitat to many species of waterfowl. It also houses a number of wild bison.
UPDATE June 15, 2013:
Apache's 9.5 Million Litre Spill Covers 42 Hectares of "Internationally Important" Wetlands
the Dene Tha First Nation who has been trapping in the area since the 1950s report detection of “hydrocarbons, high levels of salt, sulphurous compounds, metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials, along with chemical solvents and additives used by the oil industry.”

No estimates have been released regarding the duration of the leak, although locals say the evidence shows it could have be present for "months" before it was detected on June 1st.

Chief James Ahnassay told The Globe and Mail “‘Every plant and tree died’ in the area touched by the spill.”
[The only photos of the spill were taken by the Dene Nation in the area.]


Pigmy Owl Near Zama City

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Wildlife Endangered and Threatened, Gulf Watchers Group, and DFH writers group.

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