June 18, 2024

The feedback come after the AER confirmed final week two main spills on the Fort Hills and Kearl oilsands websites.

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Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is looking for brand spanking new management on the Alberta Vitality Regulator (AER) and that the group be “reviewed and overhauled.” 

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Adam’s feedback, which have been made at a Monday press convention with Alberta NDP Surroundings Critic Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, come after the regulator confirmed two main leaks at oilsands services which have occurred in current weeks.

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“On the subject of the AER and their insurance policies, they should do a greater job as a result of they’re failing large time,” mentioned Adam. “We have been presupposed to be the primary to be notified. It seems that we’re the final to be notified and if the AER had their means with business, I don’t suppose they might even notify us.”

Calahoo Stonehouse mentioned Vitality Minister Brian Jean was “disgusting” and “disrespectful” when he referred to as a current launch of handled water and sediment greater than 3 times the restrict for that river as “muddy water.” She accused Jean of not taking the state of affairs severely and referred to as for his resignation.

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“If the top of the AER gained’t do his job, if Brian Jean gained’t do his job, then I feel they each must resign,” she mentioned. “Our folks, the water, the wildlife, and their well being and security are far too vital.”

A tailings pond at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake oilsands operation north of Fort McMurray on February 25, 2023. Picture by Nicholas Vardy for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation

ACFN annoyed with a number of stories of spills in 2023

The press convention comes after the AER confirmed final week {that a} pond at Suncor’s Fort Hills web site that reportedly spilled 662 cubic metres into the Athabasca River on Oct. 9 truly spilled almost 10,000 cubic metres. The regulator added that Suncor mentioned the discharge might have began round June 2022. The trigger is probably going a defective valve.

The regulator mentioned the contaminated water from Suncor “just isn’t associated to mining, extraction or tailings processes, and comprises precipitation and snow soften water.” 

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The AER additionally confirmed final week that on Nov. 13, Imperial Oil’s Kearl web site launched about 670,000 litres of handled water with 140 components per million (ppm) of complete suspended solids. The allowable restrict for the Muskeg River on the time that the incident occurred was 42 ppm.

Kearl has been the positioning of two massive releases of poisonous wastewater. The primary launch was from a tailings pond and was noticed in Might 2022. Communities wouldn’t get one other replace for an additional 9 months. That replace got here in late January when 5.3 million litres of business wastewater spilled from a tailings pond into surrounding forests and wetlands.

The AER and the impacted corporations say water samples from each areas are inside secure parameters. Nevertheless, Adam is livid with how rapidly his group has discovered about incidents at oilsands services and environmental security.

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Brian Jean
Minister of Vitality and Minerals Brian Jean takes half in a press convention the place the Province outlined a brand new initiative to speed up carbon seize within the province, on the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton Tuesday Nov. 28, 2023. Photograph by David Bloom

“They’re not doing its job. Every thing that they’re pumping out is flawed. It’s flawed data to the general public. They’re not credible sufficient to do something,” mentioned Adam. “The federal authorities ought to step in and go together with (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and regulate this complete regime and do it correctly as a result of there are quite a lot of lacking gaps within the AER.”

Jean has not commented on Calahoo Stonehouse’s name for his resignation. In an electronic mail, Jean mentioned the AER and Suncor are engaged on resolving the difficulty, and are talking with communities and stakeholders.

He added the current sediment spill from Imperial Oil’s Kearl web site won’t threaten ingesting water or the atmosphere round Fort Chipewyan.

“I’ve had – and can proceed to have – robust conversations with the mine operator. As a lifelong resident of the area, I perceive the communities’ considerations,” mentioned Jean.

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