“Our response team responded to the spill and is still on site overseeing the company’s emergency response, as well as documenting anything that may be needed for investigative purposes,” he explains.
The spill was first noticed at 3:35 p.m. on June 28 during surveillance, and in addition to the OGC, Imperial Oil and the B.C. Ministry of Environment are all on hand for the clean up. Imperial spokesperson Pius Rolheiser says the main concentration is on keeping the affected area as small as possible, which is currently roughly 100 metres by 200 metres large. He says at this point the spill is not threatening any bodies of water, and as it’s on a grazing reserve, there are no residents nearby.
“The key is there aren’t any streams or other waterways in the vicinity,” he says. “The nearest permanent water body is Lost Lake, which is about a kilometre away, and we have people inspecting and monitoring locations downstream of the site to make sure that none of the oil water emulsion is released.”
Because of standing water that was already in the area due to rainfall, determining the volume of what was spilled is more difficult. The fluid is being recovered through vacuum trucks, and Rolheiser says the ultimate goal is to return the site to the way it was before.
“We are confident that we’ll be able to recover virtually all of the oil through our response efforts,” he says. “That’s a process that will take time, but from our perspective, the key is that we have it confined, there’s no impact on people, and there’s no impact on wildlife.”
The latter’s being done using wildlife deterrents like noisemakers to ensure they don’t wander into the area, and the owners of the grazing reserve say their cattle don’t graze in that area during this point of the summer.
In addition to the OGC and the appropriate ministries, the nearby Blueberry and Doig River First Nations and Ducks Unlimited, which has a reservoir in the larger vicinity, were also notified.
It’s still too soon to say what caused the spill, but Imperial believes at this point that the release came from a pinhole leak in the gathering line. At this point there’s no timeline for how long the cleanup will take.