May 1, 2006

Leak contained on recycled water line, Syncrude probes cause as repairs proceed

FORT McMURRAY, ALTA-Work crews were successful in containing a small leak of recycled water from a pipeline north of Syncrude's Mildred Lake operation. The 35-kilometre pipeline runs recycled water from the Mildred Lake base plant to the Aurora mine. The leak, which occurred in the pipeline's right of way next to Beaver Creek was the first ever on the line, which has been operating since 1999. A leak detection system, monitored by an infrared-equipped helicopter, detected the leak shortly after 3:00 p.m. on April 20 and the line was shut down immediately. Heavy equipment was used to build a temporary dyke to contain the residual water in the line; this work was completed by evening of the same day. Subsequent efforts focused on the recovery process. The following day, vacuum trucks removed leaked water from the area, significantly lowering a residual shallow pond to pockets of water. The water has since been channeled directly into a sump and trucks are able to maintain the level while work continues to stop the leak of residual water in the line. The leak was reported promptly to regulatory authorities and downstream communities who were provided the results of preliminary tests, both upstream and downstream of the leak, which indicated that the recycled water has been significantly diluted and will have little or no impact on the river system. Further testing confirmed the initial findings. Work to stop the leak is under way and involves preparation for the safe excavation and subsequent repair of the pipeline. Syncrude is investigating the cause of the leak in order to determine steps to prevent a similar incident in the future.

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