The Alberta Emergency Alert home page is currently lit up by numerous high-water-level and flood alerts issued for areas in southern and central Alberta. Some alerts include mandatory evacuation orders, and some local authorities have declared a state of local emergency.
These alerts are a result of ice jams, spring runoff, and high streamflow, and they may have Albertans wondering what is being done to protect the oil and gas wells, facilities, and pipelines in affected areas. Blair Reilly, the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER’s) emergency management manager, says that as long as companies are doing what they’re supposed to, there’s little cause for concern.
“Oil and gas operators are responsible for putting procedures in place and enhancing their monitoring when water levels run high, like during the spring melt,” says Reilly. “This is a yearly event, so there should be no surprises.”
Surprises like the pump jack that toppled into a creek near Drayton Valley during heavy rains in 2016—no one was hurt and the company carried out its emergency response and cleanup procedures.
To help prevent future emergencies, the AER recently issued a bulletin reminding industry of its obligations during times of flood risk. The bulletin also includes links to sites that provide up-to-date advisories on current streamflow and water emergency conditions—e.g., Alberta Environment and Parks’ Alberta River Basins website.