Alberta suspends environmental monitoring rules for oil sands during pandemic

Oil goes into a tailings pond at the Suncor oil sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alta., September 17, 2014. Todd Korol/Reuters

Carol Scott
The Canadian Press
Published May 14, 2020

The Alberta Energy Regulator has suspended a wide array of environmental monitoring requirements for oil sands companies over public health concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision means that Imperial Oil, Suncor, Syncrude, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. don’t have to perform much of the testing and monitoring originally required in their licences.

The latest exemptions specifically relieve operators of having to monitor most ground and surface water, unless it enters the environment. Almost all wildlife and bird monitoring has been suspended.

Air quality programs, including ones for certain First Nations communities, have been reduced, and testing for leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has been suspended.

Regulator spokesman Shawn Roth said the suspensions are likely to remain in place as long as there are other COVID-related orders under the Public Health Act, although some of the exemptions have an end date of September 30th.

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Oil sands tailings ponds (Canada) – Wikipedia

Alberta’s toxic tailings ponds have become an emblem of what critics view as the energy industry’s disregard for the environment.

© TODD KOROL / REUTERS/REUTERS
CARRIE TAIT
JEFF LEWISENVIRONMENT REPORTER
CALGARY
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 10, 2014
UPDATED 2018

Alberta to rewrite oil sands tailings ponds regulations

Sept 2017

Showdown looming for Alberta’s oilsands over cleanup of tailings ponds: report

A tailings pond near the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on Sept. 17, 2014. Alberta’s oilsands could be heading for another showdown over tailings ponds after an independent assessment found that the cleanup plans of six major operators don’t meet new rules.
© TODD KOROL / REUTERS
BOB WEBER
EDMONTON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
PUBLISHED MARCH 30, 2017

Ottawa, Alberta eye looser rules for releasing oil-sands wastewater

JEFF LEWISENVIRONMENT REPORTER
INCLUDES CORRECTION
PUBLISHED MAY 20, 2019
UPDATED MAY 21, 2019
FOR SUBSCRIBERS

June 2019

Toxic tailings do not belong in the Athabasca River

DAVID SCHINDLER AND MAUDE BARLOW
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JUNE 4, 2019

About Kevin Yaworski

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