Alberta Energy Regulator inspecting waste water leak near Whitecourt well site

EDMONTON – For the second time in less than a year, a Texas-based company has leaked industrial waste water in a northern Alberta site.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says Apache Canada notified it of a leak of “produced water” at around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. An operator discovered the leak at a well site about 40 kilometres northwest of Whitecourt about 8 a.m.

The leak moved at least 200 metres from the pipeline, across a leased road and into a depression in the earth. The company immediately shut in the affected pipeline.

“It’s a natural drainage path for surface water that’s run off,” said Tracie Moore, a spokeswoman for the Alberta Energy Regulator. “It hasn’t gone into any waterway.”

A byproduct of oil and gas production, produced water contains hydrocarbons, heavy metals, salts and other chemicals.

Paul Wyke, a spokesman for Apache Canada, said the leaked water had been treated to remove oil and gas and is re-injected into wells. Water at this site contains “trace amounts” of hydrocarbons, salts and up to 100 parts per million hydrogen sulphide, a highly toxic component of sour gas.

Alberta Environment has detected no levels of hydrogen sulphide in the air at the spill site, and AER inspectors are investigating.

Apache Canada has brought in vacuum trucks to remove fluids and is working with the province to determine the extent of the spill. It’s not yet known what caused the spill, Wyke said.

It’s Apache Canada’s second major spill in northern Alberta in less than a year.

Last June, about 9.4 million litres of salt and heavy, metal-laced waste water was spilled over 42 hectares- the equivalent of 78 football fields — southwest of Zama City, about 930 kilometres north of Edmonton. Some of the water entered wetlands.

Apache Canada is a subsidiary of Apache Corporation, an international oil and gas company with interests throughout the world.

Whitecourt is about 180 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.




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