The toxic waste spill in Alberta may be the biggest environmental disaster in recent North American history.
The toxic waste spill, which has destroyed nearly 42 hectares of boreal forest, affected the area approximately 100kms south of the Northwest Territories border, near a small town called Zama City.
Apache Corporation, based out of Texas, is the oil giant responsible for the overwhelmingly destructive spill. According to an estimate on Wednesday, June 12, 9.5 million litres of “produced water” has leaked into the environment. “Produced water” is a byproduct created during the extraction of oil from the ground and is considered an industrial waste.
According to Apache spokesperson Paul Wkye, the spill, which has covered an area the size of 50 football fields, is nothing but “salty water” with “trace amounts” of oil.
James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, tells The Globe and Mail that “every plant and tree died”.
While, “produced water” leaks are easier to clean up than true oil spills, the Dene Tha are concerned that because of the time that it took to detect the spill, there is a chance the toxic waste spill had actually gone undetected for month, causing untold damages to the area.
In their official news release, Apache states that “clean-up and remediation efforts continue” on the effected areas, and that their “first priority is the safety of the public and responders and minimizing any impact to the environment”.
They’ve also stated that they have implemented their response plan which identified and eliminated the source of the leak, and have taken steps to contain it while mapping, sampling, and monitoring the damage.
According to Apache, the Zama River has not been affection by the spill.
Environmental activist Mike Hedema tells The Globe and Mail:
“This latest spill should call into question the provincial government’s decision to hide the pipeline safety report they received last year and the failure to follow through on the public pipeline safety review the Minister of Energy promised last July.”
The exact cause of the toxic waste spill is still unknown.
Dene Tha: #apachespill is third major spill in region in recent years. “We don’t believe govt is doing enough to ensure maintenance.”
— Nathan VanderKlippe (@nvanderklippe) June 12, 2013
[Image via the Dene Tha]