Assembly of First Nations Concerned For First Nations Territories Following Oil Spill Near Rainbow Lake (Alberta)

OTTAWA, June 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The Assembly of First Nations insists on action and better communication from industry and government with First Nations when impacted by an oil spill. This spill is located about 20 kilometers southeast of Rainbow Lake (Alberta) and has the potential to impact Northern Alberta, Northern BC and NWT. It was discovered on May 19 and is estimated at 22,000 barrels of emulsion.

"First Nations need to be informed immediately when such incidents occur and certainly not by media ten days after the fact. Large and uncontrolled oil spills are not rare; this is the second in two years in this region. The cumulative impacts of oil and gas development, particularly pipeline spills, must be addressed. Muskeg is critical habitat for a range of culturally important species," National Chief Atleo said.

"Is it not surprising that First Nations are sceptical about federal offloading of environmental responsibilities to provinces after incidents like these. This is unacceptable - our lands must be protected and our communities must have safe and secure environments. This is a clear demonstration as to why we need plans in place to avoid and to deal with future disasters."

The spill covers an area of approximately 4 hectares of muskeg (swamp and bog land) and is located near Rainbow Lake in Northwestern Alberta. Pace Oil & Gas is one of many companies involved in Alberta's development of fossil fuels.

On May 19, 2012, it was estimated that 22,000 barrels of emulsion, a fifty-fifty mix of water and oil, from a Pace Oil & Gas pipeline in northern Alberta of oil was spilled near muskeg. Neither the pipeline owner - Pace Oil & Gas - nor the provincial government has met with First Nations leadership over the spill.

The spill occurred as the Government of Canada is moving to pass Bill C-38, which will reduce environmental protection mechanisms and decrease the frequency of First Nation engagement on major projects.

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @NCAtleo, @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


For further information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or

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