After receiving complaints from a local resident last month that a major oilfield player had “recklessly contaminated” a spring that feeds Crane Lake, the Alberta Energy Regulator announced late last week that water samples taken from the lake found “nothing out of the ordinary”.
Bob Curran, a spokesperson with the AER, said the regulator had no concerns whatsoever after it was reported that a controlled safety test conducted by Enbridge on its new Athabasca twinning project had resulted in a hydrocarbon release at the lake.
“I'd like to state right now that there really is no situation that we're dealing with here, the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) received a complaint of a potential hydrocarbon release at the lake and, after contacting us, we both dispatched field staff to the area to carry out initial testing,” Curran said. “We contacted the company in question, and they too carried out water samples which revealed absolutely nothing but organic matter in the lake.”
He added, “From our point of view, there's nothing at all from the companies activities that concerns the AER, and there's nothing that should concern local residents.”
Back in February, Enbridge received approval from the AER to discharge fresh water from a pipeline in the vicinity of Crane Lake as a part of a safety test for a new line.
Graham White, a spokesman for Enbridge's pipeline division, said the company was working alongside the AER to mitigate damage caused to a parcel of land during the release, but refuted claims the company was responsible for contaminating Crane Lake.
“We're obviously aware of the issue brought up by a local resident in the area, but we don't think (the concerns raised) really have much to do with us,” White said. “The area we're mitigating is a small trench that was caused by the release of water. We're currently working with the regulator and landowner to fix that and we're confident it's not going to be a significant issue.”
He added, “There's absolutely nothing that local residents should be concerned about. This was a deliberate release of clean water from a brand new pipeline that was approved by the regulator and that has never taken in any hydrocarbon of any kind.
“There are no contamination issues, no hydrocarbon issues and no issues with water being released in the area of the lake. This was all supervised and approved by the regulator and is standard procedure that in fact allows us to ensure the pipeline itself is safe (for operation).”
Local resident Alain Deschenes, who has owned a home along the lakefront since 1991, said he was “absolutely disgusted” when he stumbled across a spring that feeds into the lake that was ridden with discarded materials such as rubber tubing and cloth. He claims Enbridge didn't do their due diligence before releasing the discharge, which he believes resulted in the contamination of the spring.
“They should have cleaned everything up before the water was released,” Deschenes told media last week. “You can do all of the cosmetics you want, but now the damage has been done.”
After attending the Crane Lake Advisory Stewardship Society's (CLASS) annual general meeting Aug. 31, Deschenes warned residents that they had to do whatever they could to protect the lake, not only for their generation, but for future generations too.
“I just want to protect Crane Lake and all the wetlands surrounding Crane Lake,” Deschenes said. “It breaks my heart to see these sorts of things happening. I don't know how our younger generations are going to rebuild and fix these issues if we don't do something about them now.”