Report says Alberta energy regulator followed rules in Kearl mine wastewater release

EDMONTON — A third-party report into the release of millions of litres of oilsands wastewater at Imperial Oil's Kearl mine has found Alberta's energy regulator followed all its rules and procedures in keeping the public and area First Nations informed.

The report by Deloitte recommends a number of improvements to communications protocols, such as including Indigenous people in the notification process.

The review was commissioned by the regulator's board after two large releases of wastewater from the mine.

One release was spotted and reported in May 2022 as discoloured water.

First Nations were notified but not given further updates until March, when the release was disclosed as tailings seepage, along with news of a second release of 5.3 million litres of contaminated wastewater.

Area First Nations were furious and said their members had been harvesting in the area for nine months without being told of possible contamination.

The report looks at the regulator's communications and doesn't examine Imperial's actions.

The releases are also the subject of a federal investigation under the Fisheries Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press