Oil Based Wilding
In the summer of 2012, the town of Sundre got an unexpected lube job. A Plains Midstream pipeline burst open, spilling a reported 3000 barrels of light sour crude into the Red Deer River, from Sundre down to the Gleniffer Lake Reservoir. I showed up there about a week after the initial spill, hired by a pipeline friend of mine, to help with the cleanup. After about five days there I was promoted to running a crew, apparently because I was an “expert” at cleaning up oil spills. In fact, it was my first oil spill ever. In those first days I couldn’t believe what had passed the test as “clean”, and so I spoke up and was given a crew to help out.
Without getting into the details and politics of it all, (I would have to write a novel, and in all certainty be hunted down by a henchman working for the oil mafia and rolled in a carpet and thrown in the ocean) I did have one of the best summers of my life. The first few months were quite productive, as far as oil cleaning went. Long days in the sun, meeting weird great people, and witnessing the machine that is the oil spill clean up process. While these photos don’t really show much of the oil spill, they do show some of the other great moments I experienced while living in the beautiful town of Sundre, Alberta.
We fished a lot, drank even more, and worked long days doing strange tasks that most time didn’t make much sense to me. I’ve realized that the names of my best friends that summer were not their real names. Everyone had a nickname; Hooker, Muthafukkin Jones!, Sasquatch, Brown Town, Hot Lips, Fuck Eyes …. I still don’t know what their real names are, and I don’t think it would really ever matter. We rented a trailer just outside of town and had some of the wildest parties I’ve ever had the fortune of surviving, and invented the term “wilding!”. I learned how to start bonfires with molotov cocktails ….
In the end, I realized that Sundre is an amazing town, and the people are perfectly strange. I’ve come to suspect in sorts how Nazi Germany operated; that people follow orders from those in higher authority than themselves, in fear of losing their positions because they are expendable. I saw a lot of this (obviously not in the realm of the Nazis), but a lot of us didn’t speak up when we knew what we were doing was wrong.
So maybe now the area is clean, probably not. People are still told not to keep the fish they catch out of the Red Deer River, and Plains Midstream is still making plenty of bucks. But what the hell do i know? Im not an expert on what constitutes “clean” in the oil business. I haven’t even showered in 3 days ….
WHEN THE GOING GETS WEIRD, THE WEIRD TURN PRO.
-Hunter S. Thompson
I was born in Canmore, and split my time between Alberta and British Columbia. First and foremost, photography has always been a personal journal for me. I’d like to say I am a documentary photographer, but realistically I shoot anything and everything in front of me. My photographic heroes are Edward Burtynsky, Platon, Bruce Haley, James Nachtwey and Richard Avedon. I’m inspired by good books, passionate music, underdogs, graffiti and people that still write letters.