Federal environment minister says Alberta silence over oilsands spill 'worrisome'

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says Alberta's nine-month silence over two releases of toxic oilsands tailings water is worrisome.

He says Alberta is supposed to notify the federal government over such releases within 24 hours.

In this case, Alberta government agencies seem to have known about seepage from Imperial Oil's Kearl oilsand tailings pond for nine months before making a public statement on it.

Environmental incidents in Alberta are normally first reported to a government call centre run by Alberta Transportation, which then notifies the provincial regulator.

Environment Canada, in a timeline released Wednesday, says it had to learn about the seepage and a second, 5.3-million-litre spill from area First Nations, who themselves were kept in the dark about the extent and nature of the seepage.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has blamed Imperial for the slow communications around the releases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2023.

The Canadian Press