Ranchers win fight against Imperial Oil
Congratulations to a Calgary-area ranching family who fought Imperial Oil for what they believed and won.
A $70,000 judgment from the courts in favor of Ball Ranch, after a seven year dispute and court case, certainly won’t put them on easy-street, but it will give Craig and Susan Graham, and Susan’s mother Agnes Ball, some belief there is justice.
In a ruling yesterday (February 12) the Alberta Court of Queens Bench ordered Imperial Oil to pay the Grahams $70,000 for damages after the ranch experienced its worst calving season ever, following a ruptured sour gas pipeline on the ranch in 2002. A lawyer for the ranch says considering losses and legal costs they should have been awarded as much as $150,000.
"We had weak calves, premature calves, sick calves, dead calves and we lost some cows, as well,” said Susan Graham in an interview with The Calgary Herald. “We had never experienced anything like that with our herd – ever.”
The sour gas line had been leaking in or near a pasture where the cattle were grazing, and when the company came into repair it several barrels of water from an excavation were pumped out onto the pasture, although the water wasn’t tested for hydrocarbon contamination.
The court ruled in December that at least some of the ranch’s cattle had been exposed to hydrocarbon contamination, which resulted in calving losses and yesterday made the damages award.
While Imperial Oil says it is proud of its environmental record, a University of Calgary law professor says part of the court’s ruling suggests this case could have been settled out of court much faster and at much less cost. It suggests, says the professor, “that oil and gas companies will play hardball with landowners.”
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