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Sabrina Zuniga, Conservative Candidate, Says The Ground Can Absorb Oil Spills

Wait, what?

Oil spilled from pipelines can be naturally absorbed by the ground, according to a Conservative candidate who is also a science teacher.

In an interview with CPAC, Sabrina Zuniga, who is running in the downtown Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York, made the statement when asked about climate change and Conservative support for pipelines projects like Keystone XL.

"Oil is a natural substance. So spilling into the environment, the land will absorb it. Because that's what oil is, " she says. "It's just when there's too much at once that's when the difficulty comes in."

According to Zuniga's LinkedIn profile, she has taught high school chemistry and science. Zuniga is running against the Liberals' Adam Vaughan and the NDP's Olivia Chow.

(Watch her remarks on oil at around the 25:00 mark in this CPAC video.)

According to the Department of Fisheries, bacteria and natural processes can break down certain types of oil over a long period of time. Studies show that oil from spills can hang around for decades, causing continued damage — and not simply be absorbed into the ground.

A 2010 spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo river caused by a burst Enbridge pipeline is still being cleaned up. The largest on-land leak in U.S. history has already cost the Canadian company $1 billion, reported CBC News.

As well, all cleanup methods — from physical removal to chemical or biological treatments — have some kind of environmental impact, says the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Pipeline construction, particularly the fate of the Keystone XL proposal, has been a hot topic during the Canadian election campaign.

During a federal leaders' debate on the economy, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair accused Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of wanting to export Canadian jobs by supporting the pipeline.

Harper argues that the pipeline, which would ship Alberta oil to the Gulf Coast, would help Canada's economy.

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