A 1,200-barrel oil spill from a ruptured pipeline has been contained and does not pose a threat to the waters of Slave Lake, officials say. The Rainbow Pipe Line Company Ltd. pipeline began spewing crude early Tuesday morning about 200 kilometres north of Edmonton. Crews were on the scene trying to limit the damage to wildlife and water in the area.

"The spill is contained, so it's a matter of removing the oil from some of the ponds and the ground, and that's what's happening right now," said Darin Barter, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy Utilities Board. Kim McLeod of Alberta Environment said the spill is contained in a creek bounded by beaver dams and other barriers, which means it has no way of reaching nearby bodies of water or communities. "There's no way this oil could make it to Slave Lake," she said.

The amount of oil spilled is about 1/4 the amount of Bunker C oil that was spilled by a CN train near Wabamun, Alta., on Aug. 3, 2005. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein called that spill a "disaster," and CN was hit with a hefty fine for not taking all reasonable measures to remedy and contain it. McLeod said there are big differences between the two spills.

"This spill has been contained, it's not anywhere near a larger water body, the cleanup started immediately, we've been monitoring it since the beginning and we're working with the company that's doing the cleanup to make sure it's done properly," she said. NDP environment critic David Eggen said the pipeline rupture should prompt the government to hire more workers and put stricter regulations in place to protect the environment from such oil spills.

Jule Asterisk, a director of the Regional Environmental Action Committee in Slave Lake , said with oil activity on the rise in Alberta more spills are inevitable. She said the province must get better at dealing with them.

"We have to be ready to get real proficient at remediation and really, really quick at it, and to be able to remediate effectively so that there isn't a lasting impact on the environment," she said. Pius Rolheiser of Imperial Oil, which owns 1/3 of the pipeline, said they were first alerted to the spill by dropping pressure in the line. He said only a small part of the 1,200 barrels actually entered the water.

"We are confident that we will recover virtually all of the oil that spilled," he said.


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