An Alberta couple is devastated and in shock after their property was
soaked with oil from a pipeline spill this week that is believed to
have poured up to 475,000 litres of crude into a Red Deer River
Gord and Bonnie Johnston have deserted their 23-hectare rural
property and are now living on credit cards and wondering what to do
"There's not words to describe it and I don't understand how this can
happen with today's technology," a visibly shaken Gord Johnston told
CTV's Question Period Sunday.
"There are oil pools on the water, there's a sheen and it's all the
through the grasses, the brush and the water forced it up and through
everything," he said from his property in Sundre, about 100 kilometres
southwest of Red Deer.
"How do you deal with that? How do you clean that up? You can't."
Plains Midstream Canada said between 1,000 and 3,000 litres of oil
spilled and then leaked into Jackson Creek, which flows into the Red
Deer River, near Sundre.
The company said Sunday afternoon the swollen river carried the oil
into the Gleniffer Reservoir, where it has been contained at the western
edge by two booms.
Gleniffer Lake is the source for the City of Red Deer's water supply
and is also a popular spot for boating and fishing. However, officials
with Alberta Environment have warned residents to stay clear of the
Leslie Chivers, spokesperson for the City of Red Deer, said no oil
has been detected in the city's water supply. Chivers told CTV News
Channel that the city can shut off its intake from the Red Deer River
and draw treated water from a municipal reservoir should the need arise.
Stephen Bart, vice president of crude oil operations with Plains
Midstream, said Sunday the spill could have been worse had oil been
flowing through the pipeline at the time of the leak.
He also said officials are on the lookout for wildlife affected by
the spill. They are carrying noise devices to scare birds away from
Despite the company's optimistic tone, the Johnstons believe their
health will be adversely affected if they return to live on the land
they once called home.
"I believe my property is done, like this stuff is full of all kinds
of toxins and carcinogens, how can my kids, my grandkids . . . how can
we come back to this and live here and swim, fish and boat," Gord
"Where are we going to be in five years? Are we even going to be
alive if we stay? I highly don't think so," he said as oil-coated rushes
behind him wavered in a breeze, but looked more like a row of
He doesn't know much about maintenance on the pipeline, but Johnston
said he's positive it had a similar problem a few years ago.
"We flew directly to the spot we figured it was and we could see it bubbling out of the Red Deer River," he said.
Bonnie Johnston said she's devastated by the spill and said it's likely she and her husband are still in shock.
"I don't think we've come to truly understand what this is going to do to us," she said.
Gord Johnston said the company promised security for his property the
night of the spill after they decided to leave, but that help never
"As you can see around there is no security and there's been a barrage of people, which is good," he said.
"I'm glad people do come down to see this because I want them to see
it and I want everybody to see that you shouldn't have to go through
this," Gord Johnston said.
"This is my world here. I didn't break it, they broke it."
Alberta Premier Alison Redford assured Albertans on Saturday that
there will be a full investigation into the leak, and said if there are
safety shortfalls the government will make changes. She insisted that
spills are not the norm.
But for the Johnstons, that assurance comes too late.
"They come into my shop, my place, my world, my ecosystem and they destroyed it and ruined it," he said.
"They gotta do something."
Oil from a pipeline leak coats a pond near Sundre, Alta., Friday, June 8, 2012
|Liveleak on Facebook|