Tar Sands Oil Has Been Leaking Into Alberta for 10 Weeks and No One Knows How to Stop It
A Canadian oil company still hasn’t been able to stop a series leaks from underground wells at a tar sands operation in Cold Lake, Alberta. The first leak was reported on May 20, with three others following in the weeks after — making it at least 10 weeks that oil has been flowing unabated.
Indeed, recent documents show that the company responsible for the spill estimates that the tar sands oil has been leaking into the ecosystem for around four months, based on winter snow coverage.
As of July 19, at least 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water has been cleaned up from the site, but Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), the owner of the operation, hasn’t specified the total amount of oil that has leaked. Documents show that about 67,400 pounds of oily vegetation has been cleared away from the latest of the four spill zones, and the Alberta environment ministry says the spill has killed 11 birds, four small mammals and 21 amphibians so far. CNRL did say in a press release Thursday that the “initial impacted area” of the spill was about 50 acres, which includes a lake, a vast swath of boreal forest, and muskeg — the acidic, marshy soil found in boreal forests.