Oil spill compensation discussions ongoing
By: By Dan Singleton
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012 06:00 am
The process of getting compensation and restitution to landowners and others impacted by this summer’s oil spill into the Red Deer River is ongoing, say oil company officials.
On June 7 a Plains Midstream pipeline under the Red Deer River near the Sundre water treatment plant ruptured, spilling between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels (between 160,000 and 475,000 litres) of light sour crude oil into the river.
The resulting slick deposited oil along both shorelines of the river all the way to Gleniffer Lake. The cause of the leak remains under investigation.
Plains Midstream officials have had discussions with all affected parties including businesses, resort residents and landowners along the river, said Plains Midstream vice-president Stephen Bart.
“Those discussions are ongoing to identify the direct impacts of the spill and then to address that properly. We want to try to compensate people for the direct impacts of our spill,” said Bart.
“Some ongoing things we’ve done is we’ve built fences and we’ve done some repair. There is work that has been done, but the final restitution for all the impacts is something I think we are getting near to being able to do, but it hasn’t actually concluded yet.”
Landowner Dennis Overguard has four quarters running along the river north of Sundre, all of which were hit by oil. He says he’s not happy with the way the compensation process has been progressing.
“I want to be treated fairly,” Overguard said at the James River meeting. “The big problem is that they (Plains Midstream) virtually refuse to speak to landowners as far as their compensation. This issue is far from over.
“We had a lot of traffic running all over our place and there isn’t anybody in the world, whether you be an acreage owner or a place in town, who would enjoy people running all over their grass and stuff.
“I wasn’t able to use any of that land (the four quarters along the river) all summer. I had the pasture in hay land, so I would like some bales bought to replace that. And also I rented another couple quarters of land and I’d like that (expense) to be replaced.”
Overguard, whose family has not been able to move back to the family farm since the spill, says he believes the spill has also adversely impacted his health.
“One other thing is that I had a heart attack on May 7 and I had four stents put in and I had all the health records so they knew what my heart was like, that it was in good shape and I was feeling good,” he said.
“On June the 7 when that gas (fumes) came in I passed out. They rushed me to Calgary hospital and I had four more stents put in that night. Five specialists in Calgary, when they look at my chart, they say I should sue. I don’t want to be suing anybody but I want to be treated humanely.
“They won’t make any formal commitment at all.”
Bonnie and Gord Johnston also have property along the river north of Sundre and say they were impacted by the June 7 spill.
“There has been no stakeholder engagement whatsoever. We are part of the ecosystem too and it seems we don’t exist. They bully right over top of you and that is what is concerning.”
Bart said company officials believe every landowner has been impacted somewhat differently and prefer a custom approach to each one as opposed to one-size-fits-all restitution.
“Obviously that takes more time and more discussion to be able to arrive at those end points,” said Bart.
“Obviously their interests are having this concluded as soon as possible and ours would be as well. So we are hoping to work that out as soon as possible.”
The company has no set timeline for compensation to be completed, Bart said.
“As quickly as possible. Sometimes we are waiting for information from them for us to be able to conclude. Sometimes they are waiting for us to consider a particular issue they’ve raised. I’d hope by the end of the year, but at the end of the day, perhaps even sooner than that.”