EDMONTON, May 4 /CNW/ - Little Buffalo community members, including
school children, continue to experience nausea, burning eyes and
headaches after one of the largest pipeline spills in Alberta history
last Friday by Plains All American leaked nearly 30,000 barrels of oil
into Lubicon traditional territory in the Peace Region of Northern
Instead of attending an in-person community meeting, the Alberta Energy
Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) faxed a one-page fact sheet to
Little Buffalo School. The fact sheet indicates that tens of thousands
of barrels of crude oil, or 4,500 cubic metres, has spread into nearby
stands of "stagnant water." The spill, April 29 at 7:30 a.m., occurred
only 300 metres from local waterways. The ERCB said the spill has been
contained, but community members report that the oil is still leaking
into the surrounding forest and bog. The ERCB also said to the
community that there is "no threat to public safety as a result of the
leak." Yet people are still getting sick, the local school has been
shut down and children ordered to stay at home. An investigation into
the incident is underway.
"It has been four days since classes were suspended due to the noxious
odours in the air. The children and staff at the school were
disorientated, getting headaches and feeling sick to their stomachs,"
said Brian Alexander, the principle of Little Buffalo School. "We tried
to send the children outside to get fresh air as it seemed worse in the
school but when we sent them out they were getting sick as well.
"The company and the ERCB have given us little information in the past
five days. What we do know is that the health of our community is at
stake," said Chief Steve Noskey. "Our children cannot attend school
until there is a resolution, The ERCB is not being accountable to our
community; they did not even show up to our community meeting to inform
us of the unsettling situation we are dealing with. The company is
failing to provide sufficient information to us so we can ensure that
the health and safety of our community is protected."
The ERCB fact sheet states that air monitors are in place on site and
have "detected no hydrocarbon levels above Alberta Ambient Air Quality
guidelines." But this is little consolation for a community that is
scared to breathe the air. Veronica Okemow has six children, the
youngest one attending the school, and she is very worried. "We are
deeply concerned about the health effects on the community," Okemow
said. "It is a scary thing when your children are feeling sick from the
air. People are scared to breathe in the fumes."
Pipeline Companies are constantly trying to ensure the public that these
massive pipelines crossing North America are safe. "With TransCanada
and Enbridge pipeline corporations vying to build massive pipelines to
the Pacific and Gulf Coasts, First Nation and American Indian Tribes
near the path of these pipelines currently have tribal resolutions
opposing the construction of these pipelines. They foresee that these
proposed pipelines would endanger their water, air and lands, for
future generations. Alberta's big oil companies are putting our
communities at risk for a short ranged economic gain", Says Clayton
Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and a
Greenpeace Climate & Energy Campaigner in Alberta said: "The Plains All
American spill marks the second pipeline spill in Alberta in just a
week, with Kinder Morgan spilling just days before. This is an alarm
bell for Alberta residents. If this 45-year-old pipeline were to break
elsewhere along its route there would be more safety and health
hazards. Communities across Alberta and B.C. are demanding an end to
this type of risky development; yet the government refuses to listen.
Instead it continues on as business as usual without plans for the
cleaner, healthier, sustainable future that is possible."
SOURCE Indigenous Environmental Network
For further information:
Steve Noskey, Chief of the Lubicon Cree, (780) 649-4466
Brian Alexander, Principle of Little Buffalo School, (780) 629 -2210 (h) (403) 397-9779 (c)
Melina Laboucan-Massimo, member of the Lubicon Cree and Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, (780) 504-5567