Questions Raised Over Environmental Reporting of Kearl Seepage

Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, Sonya Savage, is asking questions of Alberta’s Energy Regulator.

She wants to know what the processes are, and if they were followed when the regulator failed to inform both the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as well as Environment Canada about seepage from Imperial Oil’s tailings containment area for over half a year.

“We need to take a step back and say what are the processes? Were they followed? And do we need to enhance them?” says Minister Savage.

“We’re committed to taking the step to enhancing all of those processes.”

On Thursday, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Steven Guilbeault said that AER is required, and failed to inform his Ministry within 24 hours of learning about the issues at the Kearl oilsands lease.

The Alberta Energy Regulator refused to respond to Minister Guilbeault’s comment after multiple requests to do so. AER also would not say whether they have a legal requirement to inform Environment Canada about the tailings seepage at Kearl.

Imperial Oil says they are continuing to address the seepage issue, and are conducting extensive and ongoing water monitoring in and around their lease. In their most recent update, Imperial says their testing shows that none of the seepage has entered local waterways and that there is no impact to local drinking water sources.

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is also conducting tests to ensure that the water from the Fort Chipewyan Water Treatment Plant is safe for consumption. The RM says preliminary tests show the water meets all provincial and federal regulatory requirements. They are sharing the results of their water testing with community stakeholders.

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