Spill's effect on economy starting to show
The cleanup of the oil spill along the Red Deer River banks and Gleniffer Lake continued over the weekend, with 261 response personnel at work on Sunday and 275 on Saturday.
Crews were collecting oil using absorbent materials and the deployment of 800 feet of lake and sock boom.
Since the flood, Plains Midstream is reporting more than 17,000 man-hours have been worked as part of the cleanup effort. There have been no reports of injuries following the spill.
About two dozen water samples were collected on Sunday, with the samples being sent to an independent laboratory for testing, the company said.
The five air monitoring units along the spill route have to date all registered air quality readings within acceptable Alberta Environment levels, the company said.
There are 17 wildlife monitoring officials working along the spill route, including four biologists and two wildlife technicians. They have been inspecting the riverbank and wooded areas near the river.
The information centre at the James River Community Hall continues operations this week, with an information session planned for Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, in response to numerous calls of concern to Sundre-area businesses operating in the West Country, the Sundre chamber of commerce and Plains Midstream announced they will work together to reassure tourists that “it’s business as usual in Sundre”, officials said.
Sherry Tytkanych, president of the Sundre and District Chamber of Commerce, said the cooperative effort may include an advertising campaign paid for by the company.
Details of the cooperative effort could be released this week. The chamber has suggested print advertising cover Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan, she said.
Numerous Sundre-area businesses have been getting phone calls from people reconsidering visiting the area because of the spill, she said.
“The whitewater rafting (companies) are being affected because everyone is hearing that there’s an oil spill in Sundre and they are scared to come out here because it’s the river,” said Tytkanych.
“And that’s going to have a ripple effect because there are campgrounds on the river, so are people still going to want to bring their families up here? So tourism in general is going to be affected. And we’ve already seen some of that.”
Hundreds of thousands of litres of sour crude oil spilled into the river immediately downstream of Sundre. The cleanup of the spill has been ongoing since the day after the leak and is continuing this week.
Both Plains Midstream and the Sundre chamber want to make sure the spill doesn’t negatively impact the economy of Sundre and area businesses upstream of the leak site, she said.
“We need to make everyone aware that it is business as usual in Sundre,” she said. “If somebody was to say to me, what do you have to say about the oil spill, I would say that it’s not even in Sundre, that it’s north of Sundre. It is not affecting the West Country at all, that it is not affecting the fishing areas to the west or in Sundre.
For more, see this week’s Mountain View Gazette.