Elk Point pipeline restarted after oil spill

A heavy crude pipeline is up and running, one day after 1,400 barrels of oil leaked at a pumping station near Elk Point, Alta.
Enbridge workers are cleaning up an oil spill near Elk Point where 1,400 barrels of heavy crude leaked at a pump station. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

A heavy crude pipeline is up and running, one day after 1,400 barrels of oil leaked at a pumping station near Elk Point, Alta.

A gasket on a flange failed Monday, leaking oil onto the site.  

The release is almost completely contained to the site with no impact on wildlife or water, Enbridge said Wednesday.

The line was restarted at 11:30 p.m.Tuesday with crude bypassing the pumping station.

The leak is the third major oilfield leak in the province in one month and has prompted calls for an independent assessment or audit of Alberta's pipeline system. Premier Alison Redford says she wants to first hear from her cabinet ministers once the investigations into the three spills are complete.

"Certainly not opposed to the idea but want to see what the recommendations are," she said. "And before we see what they are with respect to those three incidents, I'm not going to jump to any conclusions."

Earlier this month, about 3,000 barrels of oil leaked into the Red Deer River near Sundre from the Rangeland pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada.

The company is still cleaning up one of the biggest spills in the province's history when 4.5 million litres of oil northeast of Peace River leaked from a split pipeline on April 29, 2011.

In late May, 22,000 barrels of oil and water leaked at a Pace Oil and Gas injection well site southeast of Rainbow Lake.

Still, Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes says pipeline leaks are relatively rare and what's important is what happens after a spill.

"What people need to look at is the response to circumstances like this and the prompt response, the clean up and the circumstance, how it looks in two or three years," Hughes said. "That's the measure of accountability."