Fifth leak found at CNRL's Primrose site

By: ANDREW MENDLER

  |  Posted: Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 06:00 am

A fifth bitumen leak was reported at CNRL's Primrose Site on Jan. 6.
A fifth bitumen leak was reported at CNRL's Primrose Site on Jan. 6.
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Another leak at CNRL’s Primrose site has resulted in approximately 27,000 litres of bitumen emulsion being released, according to an incident report filed with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) on Jan 6.

The subsurface spill, which occurred on Jan 3, is the fifth incident in the past eight months involving a release of bitumen emulsion into the environment at the company’s Primrose site located 45 kilometers northwest of Cold Lake.

“The bitumen release was entirely underground. No surface impact,” wrote Darin Barter, a senior advisor in the office of public affairs with the AER, in an email to the Nouvelle. “The release went into another bitumen-bearing formation with no aquifers in the area.”

The AER has ordered CNRL to suspend steam operations at the pad and explore well repair options.

Barter says it is too early in the investigation to determine the exact cause of the incident.

Critics were quick to jump all over the new leak, with Greenpeace Canada sending out a press release detailing their concerns on Jan 10.

“It’s incredible that CNRL is still allowed to continue its operations, when this latest spill adds to four ongoing tar sands releases that have been spilling for over eight months,” said Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner.

“If the Alberta government is serious about protecting Alberta’s environment, it has to pull CNRL’s approval for their Cold Lake operations. How many more spills will it take before we see some real reaction?”

The first four leaks, which were reported on May 20, June 8 and June 24 of 2013, resulted in 1.878 million litres of bitumen emulsion seeping into the environment at the CNRL Primrose site.

AER is still investigating the incident and has yet to determine the cause of any of the leaks.

CNRL did not respond to a request for comment by the Nouvelle’s press deadline.


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