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Oil company purchases 4 farms to settle civil claim

A lawsuit that was filed against an oil extraction company in Calgary was resolved in September. Baytex Energy Corp. settled the lawsuit that was brought by an extended family of farmers by agreeing to purchase four farms in Peace River. According to the family's lawsuit, heavy emissions from the oil company's operations had forced them to abandon their 160 hectares of farmland.

Although it is unknown how much the family was paid for their land, a lawyer representing the family has stated that the resolution had been positive. The senior vice-president of public affairs for Baytex would not comment on whether landowners in the area received any compensation for the effects of emissions.

Landowners around Baytex had reportedly complained about heavy emissions and odours for years. When the Alberta Energy Regulator published a report about the emissions in April, they concluded that the heavy oil operations were probably contributing to health complications of residents. The AER panel also instructed companies around Peace River to put an end to gas venting and reduce flaring under Directive 60. Since the directive went through, farmers in the area have commented that the gassy odours have decreased, but they have not been completely eliminated.

When a company's activities are causing serious inconvenience and health issues for people who live around their operations, residents in the area may wish to hold the company accountable with some type of civil action. A lawyer may be able to assist plaintiffs in building a strong claim while helping them to get the attention of local regulators and government officials.

Source: Calgary Herald, "Baytex settles lawsuit by buying four farms", Dan Healing, October 07, 2014

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