Protecting Marine Areas from the Threat of Oil and Gas Development
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Oilsands giant Suncor has been fined $200,000 for dumping material harmful to fish into a northern Alberta river.
Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) was fined Tuesday after pleading guilty to federal Fisheries Act charges.
Environment Canada says the fine was for the release of effluent in 2008 from sediment ponds built as part of Suncor operations near the Steepbank River north of Fort McMurray.
The material in the water was clay and other natural materials and did not include oilsands or tailings pond effluent, Mike Bell, an Environment Canada spokesman said Wednesday.
"It was not tailings ponds, it was total suspended solids — matter suspended in water," Bell said. "It is deleterious to fish because it interrupts their respiration and can impact habitat as well."
Much of the fine will be paid into the federal government's Environmental Damages Fund.... Read more »
Alberta is changing how it monitors water in the oilsands, according to the province's environment minister who made the announcement one day before a federally appointed panel reports its findings on the issue.
A group of independent experts will gather in January 2011 and report to the province in June on how to best set up an environmental monitoring system for northern Alberta, which could serve as a pilot project for the rest of the province.
"With the growth of development, we need to ensure that the oilsands are being managed under the closest scrutiny and oversight," Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said Monday in Calgary.
"Our ultimate goal is to build a world-class monitoring, evaluation and reporting system so that we can meet the environmental challenges we face in Alberta."... Read more »
A high-level scientific panel has sharply criticized the water quality monitoring system in Alberta's oilsands, going so far as to say “there is no system.”
The Oilsands Advisory Panel, appointed by former federal environment minister Jim Prentice, made its findings public in Ottawa on Tuesday in a joint news conference with current Environment Minister John Baird, who promised to act on the panel’s recommendations.
The panel’s chair, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, was critical of a piecemeal approach to water quality monitoring, saying the system is fragmented with no links between data on water quality — including ground water — and air quality.
She also said there is no reliable longitudinal data that would give a solid understanding of the environmental impact of the oilsands.... Read more »
EDMONTON — Alberta will be beefing up its environmental monitoring system under the guidance of a new panel and industry will be expected to pay the “lion’s share” of recommended improvements, said Environment Minister Rob Renner on Monday.
A group of independent experts will be called together by January and they will be asked to provide details on how to best set up, operate, and govern a world-class environmental monitoring, evaluation, and reporting system for Alberta’s oilsands, Renner said.... Read more »
OTTAWA — There are "significant" weaknesses in monitoring pollution from Alberta's oilsands sector that must be corrected, a scientific panel concluded in a report released Tuesday.
The findings were submitted to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government last week after a two-month analysis that was commissioned by former environment minister Jim Prentice.
"The minister asked the panel whether or not Canadians had a first-class state-of-the-art monitoring system in place in the oilsands," said the report from the panel, chaired by Liz Dowdeswell. "In the view of the panel, the answer is no — but . . . We are convinced that the current activities could be transformed into a system that will provide credible data for decisions."
But despite some positive signs and strengths, the panel noted "significant shortcomings in the monitoring system as a whole."... Read more »