Bitumen leak cleanup underway near Cold Lake, Alta.
1 million litres of bitumen emulsion have leaked in boreal forest
The president of an oilsands company now cleaning up a serious leak near Cold Lake, Alta., says his company should have done more to communicate with the public.
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) first reported the leak of bitumen emulsion into boreal forest land owned by Canada’s military in May.
On Thursday, the company led a media tour of two of the four leak sites, where 200 workers are now on hand to help with the cleanup.
"We don’t want to see this damage occurring," said CNRL president Steve Laut. "We’re very sorry it’s happened and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s cleaned up."
A representative for the company said CNRL has contained the one million litres that has leaked so far, but, it still remains unclear what caused the problem in the first place, or when it will stop.
CNRL said the problem lies with a faulty well, but a spokesperson with Alberta Energy Regulator said it is still too early to know for sure.
Cleanup of the four sites is expected to cost $40 million.
The spill site is near traditional land used by the Cold Lake First Nation.
Cecil Janvier said his community was not given enough information about the environmental impact of the leaks, which killed dozens of animals, including frogs, birds and small mammals.
"How does it make me feel? I feel cheated out of my ability to practise my way of life," he said.
Laut said the company is now speaking with the First Nations community, but admits it could have done more in the beginning.
"I think if you go back and look in hindsight, we weren’t communicating quickly enough to the public — so lesson learned for us," he said.