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Magazine publishes photo of 2001 Alaska oil spill, claims it is from Alberta spill

Laurel Andrews

Remember back in 2001 when a drunk man shot the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline while out four-wheeling? Dramatic photos of the resulting oil spill have been re-circulating the Internet this week, but not because the incident is in the news again.

As Poynter first publicized, on Friday, Common Ground magazine published a story on its Facebook page about a recent oil spill in Alberta, Canada. The photo they chose for the story, however, is from that 2001 incident in Alaska.

The image shows oil spewing from the side of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which today carries around 13 percent of U.S. oil production, into the surrounding sub-Arctic forest. “Today's bust pipeline in Alberta, this photo was taken down so fast!!” the Facebook post reads.

As of Monday, the article had been shared over 20,000 times, and more than 3,000 people “liked” the post. Although some who commented on the article point out the error, the magazine has yet to correct its mistake. Poynter first pointed out the discrepancy on Monday; perhaps not fast enough to stop the image from circulating under false premises.