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Geese reported with oil stains following release of 900 litres of crude oil near Cold Lake

Imperial has reported a release of an estimated 900 litres of crude oil into a process water lagoon, about 30 km northwest of Cold Lake.
A dozen Canada geese (not those pictured) have been taken to a facility in Edmonton from the Cold Lake area for cleaning and rehabilitation. / File photo

COLD LAKE - A dozen Canada geese have been taken to a site in Edmonton for cleaning and rehabilitation following the release of an estimated 900 litres of crude oil into a process water lagoon, about 30 km northwest of Cold Lake.

On July 26, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) released information stating Imperial Oil had reported a release of crude oil into a process water lagoon, and subsequently observed a flock of 12 Canada geese being stained due to landing on the impacted lagoon.

The incident took place at Imperial Oil's Mahihkan plant. The report was made to the EDGE (Environmental and Dangerous Goods Emergencies) call centre on July 24. 

"The oil release was due to an operational upset that was immediately addressed," according to information from AER. "The recovery of oil from the lagoon is ongoing."

Wildlife deterrents such as wildlife cannons and flagging, have been deployed around the lagoon, and the site is now under 24 hour surveillance by Imperial, confirmed the AER.

"Containment booms have been deployed to prevent the release from spreading further within the lagoon," according to the AER.

The 12 birds have been removed from the lagoon and taken to a site for cleaning and rehabilitation.

Field Inspectors from the AER were onsite on July 24. A visit also took place, collaboratively with Environment and Climate Change Canada, on July 25. 

"The AER has directed Imperial to provide daily updates with respects to the release clean up, preventative measures taken to ensure no further adverse impacts to wildlife occur, and to ensure that Imperial meets all AER expectations." The AER says it continues to monitor the situation

Imperial and the AER have reportedly provided notification to communities in the area.

Imperial statement

In a written statement to Lakeland Today, Lisa Schmidt, media relations, Public & Government Affairs with Imperial said, "Imperial is taking additional measures to protect wildlife at its Cold Lake site after geese came into contact with oil in a lagoon at the Cold Lake facility. The 12 birds have been taken to an Edmonton rehabilitation center, where they will be cleaned and assessed. We are monitoring their status and they are currently in good physical condition."

Schmidt added that "As result of an upset with key process equipment on July 21, approximately 0.9 m3 (900 litres/6 barrels) of oil was released to a waste lagoon. The release has been stopped and cleanup of the oil is underway."

Oil remained contained in the lagoon, which is lined. A few days later, Imperial personnel observed oiled Canadian Geese near the lagoon.

"Regulators were notified and visited the site and local communities were also notified," wrote Schmidt.

"Additional wildlife mitigations have been put in place, including around the clock surveillance, decoys and flags, additional cannons. Additional wildlife fencing has been installed around lagoon perimeter. We regret this incident and will make every effort to learn and apply any preventative steps that are identified," according to the information from Imperial.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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