Oil spill from pipeline hitting Red Deer River tributary in Alberta

Plains Midstream Canada pipeline oil spill from 2011. CBC PhotoUp to 3,000 barrels of crude oil have spilled into Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River in Alberta.

The oil is leaking from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline near Sundre, Alta., into an arm of the major waterway. The spill was detected on Thursday night. As many as 475,000 litres of light sour crude reportedly could have been released into the creek not far from Red Deer.

"I would expect that the vast majority of it will end up in the Red Deer River," Bruce Beattie, reeve of Mountain View County, told the Globe and Mail. "It's a major concern."

Alberta energy regulators and government officials are now monitoring the water and air quality in west central Alberta.

The damage could be significant since the Red Deer River is currently flooding, giving the spill a chance to spread further down the river.

"Immediately upon receiving notification of the release, Plains' pipeline operations in the area were shut down and valves were closed to isolate area pipelines," Plains Midstream said in a press statement.

This isn't the first spill for the pipeline company. It is still cleaning up the 4.5 million litre oil spill that took place northeast of Peace River, Alta., in April 2011.

There is no word yet on whether the spill will threaten the quality of drinking water downstream.

With files from the Canadian Press