Imperial Oil reporting spill in Norman Wells occurred under Mackenzie River

·1 min read
The Norman Wells Imperial Oil plant in July 2022. A spill involving produced water was determined to have occurred underneath the Mackenzie River.  (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)
The Norman Wells Imperial Oil plant in July 2022. A spill involving produced water was determined to have occurred underneath the Mackenzie River. (Liny Lamberink/CBC - image credit)

Nearly a month after the incident was first reported, Imperial Oil has confirmed that the produced water line that spilled in Norman Wells, N.W.T. is underneath the Mackenzie River.

Cabin Radio first reported the leak's location.

Imperial Oil said the cause of the leak is still being determined and that results from water sampling indicate there is no risk to public health or freshwater aquatic life downstream.

In early August, residents in Fort Good Hope reported a fuel-like sheen and other surface contaminants spotted on the surface of the Mackenzie River.

In an interview with CBC News in late July, Edwin Erutse, president of the Yamoga Land Corporation, said news of the spill came during a busy fishing time in the community.

"People have nets and that out on the river, so I want to make sure that these concerns don't go unaddressed," he said.

Tommy Kakfwi, who was elected chief of Fort Good Hope in 2021, said the Guardian representatives with the K'ahsho Got'ine Foundation are doing their own tests alongside Imperial Oil.

"There is concern," he said.

"We're doing our own water sampling right beside them to make sure they don't water down their results."

The spill was reported to the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources on July 27 and according to the federal regulator occurred between Bear and Goose Island.

Produced water is treated water that is pumped to the surface during oil recovery and then reused. According to Transport Canada, produced water can contain contaminants from oil extraction, but varies with how much it contains.

The company estimates the quantity of the spill is 55 cubic metres (55,000 litres).