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Oil-water leak puts 22,000 barrels in Alberta muskeg

A spill of oil and water in northwest Alberta has lasted since at least May 19 and has put an estimated 22,000 barrels in the muskeg. The site, a water-injection well and pipeline, is operated by Pace Oil & Gas Ltd., which is now conducting a cleanup operation.

According to news releases on the Pace website, the leak was spotted on May 19 from an aircraft flying over the remote site near Rainbow Lake.

The latest release, dated May 29, said: "The spill covers an approximate surface area of 4.3 hectares (10.6 acres) and an estimated volume of 3,500 [cubic meters]. The fluid spill composition is an emulsion of oil and water." It went on to say, in part:

•As of May 28th, approximately 588 m3 of oil and water emulsion has been recovered.

•The recovered emulsion is 30 per cent oil and 70 per cent water.

•Additional booms have been put in place.

•A 50 person camp is being set up and located near the site.

The release also confirmed that the source of the leak had been completely shut off on May 19 and that all government regulatory agencies have been notified.

As of mid-afternoon on Thursday, no comment on the spill had appeared on the website of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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