Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pipeline spill bigger than earlier thought

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LITTLE BUFFALO, Alta. -- Estimates of the size of a pipeline spill in northern Alberta have grown dramatically, causing concern among area aboriginals.

Pennwest Exploration says between 400,000 and 600,000 litres of salty waste water escaped from the pipeline in addition to the 5,000 litres of oil initially reported.

"Groundwater, and also the environmental damage for wildlife... that's always the concern," said Billy Joe Laboucan, chief of the Lubicon Lake Cree.

"Especially if it's in a boggy area. It's really hard to get all of that. It seems to seep in."

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development said Monday a swampy area of muskeg and wetlands just under two hectares in size has been affected.

Pennwest has said no waterways have been touched.

Nobody from the company was available Monday. Pennwest's headquarters are in downtown Calgary, which remained largely deserted due to heavy flooding.

The spill is about 20 kilometres from the aboriginal community of Little Buffalo. It is regularly used by locals for hunting and trapping.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2013 B5

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