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Spill Keeps Northern Rainbow Pipeline Shut, Southern Reopens After Fire Threat

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The Rainbow pipeline in northern Alberta, hit by a double-whammy of forest-fire threat and an oil spill that closed a First Nations school, has reopened its southern portion, the Calgary Herald reported on May 26. The northern stretch, between Zama and Nipisi, is still closed as workers clean up a 28,000-barrel oil spill. The cleanup had been halted for five days because of the fire threat but workers returned to the site on May 25, the Calgary Herald said.

Alberta officials were holding off on approving the re-start, given that this was not the first rupture and it was the largest one in 35 years. The pipeline’s owner, Plains Midstream Canada, a subsidiary of Houston-based Plains All American, has said its cleanup could top $40 million, according to the QMI Agency newswire in the London Free Press.

The Little Buffalo School, which closed in the days after the April 29 spill because students were sick from the fumes, has since reopened, according to the Record-Gazette. But on May 16 the Lubicon First Nation residents were faced with wildfires to the north and south and narrowly escaped damage, the Edmonton Journal reported.

This is not the first time the Lubicon Cree in this part of Alberta have been saddled with misfortune. The 2009 Amnesty International documentary Our Land, My People details 30 years of struggle against the powers that be. See Amnesty’s site, Justice for the Lubicon Cree, and watch a preview below.