Canadian Manufacturing

Groups send letter to Alberta government, want details about oilsands water spill

First Nations, environmental groups concerned about impact on communities

Fort McMurray, Alta.—Eleven groups have banded together to send a letter to the Alberta government about their concerns over a waste-water spill at a Suncor oilsands plant.

The groups—representing the environment, First Nations and landowner associations—are demanding more information about the leak.

Suncor has said it doesn’t know exactly what’s in the waste water or how much of it spilled at its base plant north of Fort McMurray.

“This is all information that Suncor and the Alberta government should know and be immediate public knowledge, but we remain in the dark,” said the letter dated Wednesday.

“We hereby demand the immediate release of this information, including pictures, so Albertans can judge for themselves the impact of this spill.”

Suncor has said that it discovered Monday that a pipe carrying “process-affected” water had frozen and burst and that it took at least a few hours to shut the line down.

The company later confirmed that some of the liquid ended up in the nearby Athabasca River. Suncor said it doesn’t anticipate there will be any environmental impact because the discharge was diluted with clean water before it got into the river.

“We are concerned about the potential impacts the spill will have on our communities, the environment and Alberta’s waterways,” said the letter. “We are also concerned about Suncor’s inability to plan for something as simple as keeping a pipe from freezing.”

Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians and Forest Ethics Advocacy are among the groups that signed the letter.

It is addressed to Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen. A department spokesman said she was in Calgary on Wednesday and hadn’t yet received the document.

Wayne Wood said government crews were still at the site, working with Suncor and overseeing cleanup and containment.

He said the government is still waiting for test results from water samples taken from the spill site and the river. They may be available later this week.

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