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Jul. 19, 2015
The cleanup of a massive pipeline spill in northern Alberta must be conducted with the long-term future of the land in mind, says a local aboriginal group.
“Our biggest concern is the land,” said Byron Bates, a band councillor of the Fort McMurray First Nation, which sits about 10 kilometres from the five-million-litre bitumen spill.
Mr. Bates said the area around the spill isn’t used as much for hunting, trapping and other traditional purposes as it was before industry arrived. But he said those developments aren’t going to be around forever. When industry’s done, his people expect no traces to be left of events such as last Wednesday’s spill.
“In 50 or 70 years, the oil companies are going to be gone,” he said. “We want to be able to use our land again. Our biggest concern is to make sure it’s brought back to pristine condition.”
The cleanup effort continued Sunday on the site about 35 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray. A road into the site has been completed. Crews have fenced off the area to keep wildlife out and built berms to contain contaminants. Vacuum trucks are sucking surface fluid off the muskeg in preparation for the more intensive effort of digging up and removing potentially contaminated soil.