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Oilsands tailings ponds leaking; federal enforcement unclear: report

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 7:20 am MDT

The Syncrude oil sands extraction facility is reflected in a tailings pond near the city of Fort McMurray, Alberta on June 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

An international environmental watchdog says there’s convincing evidence that oilsands tailings ponds are leaking.

The body set up under the original North American free-trade agreement also says Alberta and Canada aren’t working together when it comes to enforcement and monitoring.

The Commission on Environmental Co-operation reviews monitoring and related actions in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

In 2017, it was asked to consider if Canada has properly investigated whether huge and toxic tailings ponds are seeping wastewater in violation of the Fisheries Act.

The commission’s report, released today, says there’s consistent evidence of groundwater seepage — more than three-quarters of a million cubic metres in 2017 from one pond alone.

The report says despite environmental agreements signed by Alberta and Canada, there’s little evidence the two governments have done anything to implement them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020


The Canadian Press