UPDATE: Alberta Energy Regulator investigates estimated 10 million litre leak from Suncor’s Fort Hills site

Fort Hills – Suncor website

Nov. 27, 2023 9:45 a.m. Update: Suncor says they plan to implement automated alarms to provide early awareness if operating conditions change.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is reporting a leak from Suncor’s Fort Hills oil sands site.

The AER says Suncor reported an unplanned release to the Alberta Environmental and Dangerous Good Emergencies (EDGE) call centre on Oct. 9, 2023.

Approximately 662 cubic metres (662,000 litres) of surface runoff from a containment pond near the site was released into the Athabasca River.

“The pond the water was released from is not related to mining, extraction, or tailings processes, and contains precipitation and snow melt water,” said the AER in the release.

“Suncor has taken water quality samples of the pond, and the results indicate that the water that was released into the river was within release criteria parameters for discharge.”

An AER inspector visited the site the following day and confirmed the release was stopped.

Suncor informed the AER on Nov. 24, 2023, that further investigation shows the release may have been closer to 10,000 cubic metres (10,000,000 litres).

They believed the leak may have been in effect since June 2022 with the likely cause being a faulty valve.

Inspectors visited the site the same day and confirmed the valve was not currently leaking.

Suncor and the AER notified communities and stakeholders on Oct. 10, 2023, with further notification made on Nov. 24, 2023.

The AER will review sampling data from June 2022 to November 2023 and has directed Suncor to give the reasoning for the estimated volume released.

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