Remediation work on the site of the Long Lake pipeline failure continues to progress. Our priorities remain focused on maintaining a safe work site and minimizing the impact on the environment and wildlife.

“Detailed plans are in place for water monitoring, waste management and wildlife management,” says Ron Bailey, Senior Vice President, Canadian Operations. “The water monitoring results indicate that chloride levels continue to decrease in the impacted area. This is partially attributable to rainfall in early September, which has diluted the saline liquid in the soil, as well as our actions to minimize the environmental impact through extraction of liquids from trenches and bell holes.”

The bitumen emulsion (bitumen and water mixture) released was relatively low in chlorides, which is reflected in the low salinity levels of the samples collected to date. With the approval of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), the sampling frequency of the spill site and surrounding area has been reduced to weekly, as substantial data has been collected that indicates no significant fluctuations and a positive downward trend in the collected results.

Extraction of bitumen remaining on the surface of the muskeg commenced on Friday, October 2. Ron explains that cooler temperatures were needed to slightly harden the emulsified bitumen. “This allows us to safely remove it without pushing it down and contaminating the soils lower in the muskeg. We expect the optimum temperature conditions, which are between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius, to hold through the months of October and November.”

Wildlife monitoring is ongoing and several deterrents remain in place to discourage the presence of birds and other animals. Both visual and audible deterrents have proven successful, including white silage wrap that was used as cover to protect migratory birds from mistaking the area for muskeg or a mud flat during the fall migration.

Planning is also currently underway to prepare for the reclamation activities that will be undertaken once the bitumen extraction is complete. “A Remediation Advisory Committee has been established, with representatives from our neighbouring communities closest to the spill site,” says Ron. “We’re currently working with the Fort McMurray # 468 First Nation, Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation and Willow Lake Métis Local 780. Their input is highly valued as we collaborate to discuss best practices and seek traditional knowledge.”

Third-party consultants have been engaged to assist with Nexen’s internal investigation into the cause of this incident. The AER is also conducting an independent investigation.

Operations at our K1A site have not resumed, and there is no estimate on timing for recommencing production. Regular updates will continue to be posted to our website:

Past Updates

September 1, 2015