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October 17, 2023
(ANNews) – Indigenous climate advocates are harshly criticizing an Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) report into Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine leaking 5.4 million tonnes of contaminated water, which concluded that the oil company followed all required regulations, even after it failed to notify members of the downstream First Nations.
While it was initially reported that the AER concealed the leakage from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree Nation for almost a year until contaminated water surfaced in February 2023, the regulator knew about the leakage for years prior, according to reporting from The Canadian Press.
Groundwater reports Imperial submitted to the AER in 2020 and 2021 acknowledge that tailings were seeping from the ponds intended to contain them.
In May 2022, the First Nations were first informed that discoloured water had surfaced from the pond, but Indigenous leaders were then kept out of the loop until February, when the AER issued an environmental protection order against Imperial after 5.4 million tonnes of toxic water escaped from the pond.