by Steve da Silva – Produced for TwoRowTimes.com & BASICS Community News Service
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is now taking drastic measure of emptying out two-thirds of Cold Lake in Alberta to contain the spilling of bitumen at no less than four sites at its Cold Lake project for over a month now. More than 1.5 million liters of bitumen (a mixture of oil sands, heavy crude and water) is said to have leaked. The bitumen leaked would fill 9600 barrels.
The site of the oil spill is on Treaty 6 territory near the Denesuline (‘Chipewyan’) community of Cold Lake First Nation, a community of the larger Dene nation in central Alberta.
The leak is being caused by the process whereby high-pressure steam that is pushed into the ground to force bitumen out a well. But instead, the bitumen is seeping through unknown cracks in the ground, damaging local land, water, and wildlife. The most difficult leak to contain is in lake, where the bitumen is pushing through the ground under the water.
The Cold Lake First Nation is demanding answers for the leaks, which are damaging traditional hunting grounds. A statement from the Cold Lake First Nation claims that the number of known sites where bitumen is pushing through the ground has grown to six.
“I’m really distressed about the safety of our drinking water, animals, vegetation and how this is affecting the aquifers underneath our Dene lands. Our future generations will not be able to enjoy what once was pristine Denesuline territory. Animals such as wolves and bears are now migrating through our community, which is a safety risk and precaution. The environment is changing and definitely not for the positive,” stated Chief Bernice Martial.
The Cold Lake First Nation works with some twenty oil companies in its region.