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Guilty plea leads to $460 000 penalty for Nexen Long Lake pipeline spill

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Calgary, Alberta (Jul 13, 2018)…

Nexen has been ordered to pay $460 000 as a result of a July 2015 spill from a pipeline associated with the company’s Long Lake oil sands facility.

The company pleaded guilty in provincial court to one count under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). The spill released 5000 cubic metres of bitumen emulsion (made up of 20 per cent bitumen and 80 per cent produced water) over a 21 900-square-metre area about 45 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray.

“This spill was one of the largest in Alberta’s history,” said Jim Ellis, the AER’s president and CEO. “Over the last three years, we’ve kept a close eye on Nexen’s operations to bring the company back into compliance. The pipeline responsible for this spill will remain suspended until Nexen can demonstrate to us that the company can operate it safely.”

The penalty includes a fine of $19 983 with the remaining amount to be directed to creative sentencing, which includes $220 017 to fund a learning centre that will establish best practices that will limit the impact of pipeline spills on wetlands and $220 000 to expand an existing environmental sciences degree program for indigenous youth.

The agreed statement of facts, which includes more information about the spill and penalties, is available on the AER’s Compliance Dashboard.

The AER laid charges in July 2017 against Nexen under EPEA and the Public Lands Act. The charges followed a number of regulatory actions taken by the AER. The pipeline responsible for the spill will remain suspended until the AER determines that it is safe to operate. To operate this pipeline, Nexen will require written approval from the AER.

In addition to the penalty under EPEA, Nexen pleaded guilty to charges under the federal Fisheries Act. For information on those charges, contact Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The Alberta Energy Regulator ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This includes allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.

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