Albertans reminded to stay off oil-contaminated lake

The province is reminding people to stay off Gleniffer Lake in central Alberta this weekend after it was contaminated by an oil spill under the Red Deer River earlier this month.

Hydrocarbons detected in water downstream of Gleniffer Lake, but province says drinking water still safe

Fishing, boating and swimming is currently not allowed on Gleniffer Lake after it was contaminated by oil from a ruptured pipeline in the nearby Red Deer River earlier this month. (Plains Midstream Canada)

The province is reminding people to stay off Gleniffer Lake in central Alberta this weekend.

The cleanup of the popular summer recreation spot continues after oil spewed into the lake from a ruptured pipeline under the nearby Red Deer River just north of Sundre.

It's estimated up to 3,000 barrels of oil spilled from the Plains Midstream Canada pipeline on June 7.

Provincial officials continue to monitor water quality downstream — a source that provides thousands of Albertans with drinking water.

"Trace levels of hydrocarbons have been detected downstream of the containment points on Gleniffer Lake; however, levels are well below Alberta drinking water guidelines and do not pose a risk to health," says the province. "Downstream drinking water remains safe for human consumption."

They say hydrocarbon presence beyond the established booms is not unexpected, because oil can decompose into smaller components and dissolve in the water.

Residents from the site of the spill all the way to Gleniffer Lake have been advised not to draw water from the river. Potable water is available for residents at the resident information centre at James River Hall, or by calling the community response line set up at 1-866-670-8073.

Cleanup continues

More than 180 workers are on site both overseeing and performing the clean up, with government staff on hand to oversee the progress.

The company says the pipeline is shut in and the release contained by using absorbent pads at the release point and booms deployed on Gleniffer Lake.A skimmer is being used to remove oil on the water from the river and Gleniffer reservoir.

The province says air monitoring has not raised any issues and no results have exceeded Alberta guideline criteria for air quality.

"Some individuals may experience temporary odour-related irritation," said the province. "Individuals experiencing any irritation can call Health Link Alberta for advice at 1-866-408-5465."

They're asking that all recreational activity on and near Gleniffer Lake — including camping, boating, swimming and fishing — be avoided.

The cleanup is expected to take months.

Fish and wildlife

Shoreline and riverbank cleanup is also underway and 13 crews are scouring the shoreline watching for wildlife in distress and taking samples.

Two oil-contaminated beavers, one crow and one goose have been captured and are undergoing rehabilitation.

Four fish have also been recovered by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development wildlife biologists within the spill zone.

These fish will be sent for testing to determine cause of death but no timeline is yet known for when these results will be available.

Wildlife and fish biologists remain on site to oversee mitigation and monitor activities.

The province says anyone that finds dead or injured wildlife in the area should not move or try to capture the animal, but contact its Red Deer office at 403-340-5142.