Alberta band chief angry over silence from Imperial Oil after oilsands tailings spill

A northern Alberta band chief says he's angry over not being notified for nine months after two separate releases from an oilsands tailings pond.

Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation says a pond on Imperial Oil Ltd.'s Kearl mine was seeping into groundwater and onto the surface for nine months before his community was notified Feb. 6.

At least 5.3 million litres of water containing toxic chemicals have been released and the seepage continues.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says the company has complied with an environmental protection order.

Imperial says remediation efforts are ongoing and no wildlife was harmed.

Adam says it's going to be hard for him to believe anything he's told by either party.

Imperial has expressed regret for the release.

The risk of a tailings leak was pointed out in the mine's original environmental assessment and a series of scientific reports dating back over a decade has suggested tailings are making their way into the landscape.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press