Ground Water Canada

News Contamination Water Issues
Environmental Defence manager seeks moratorium on tailings growth to protect groundwater

Expert to testify before Parliamentary Environment Committee

February 6, 2024  By Ground Water Canada

Ottawa – The manager of the climate and energy program at Environmental Defence is calling for a moratorium on tailings growth and a plan to clean up toxic spills in advance of his testimony before a Parliamentary Environment Committee.

Aliénor Rougeot’s message is to be delivered on the anniversary of the news that Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine had been leaking toxic industrial wastewater for more than nine months, threatening to contaminate area groundwater. The delay in making the news known in a timely manner raised the ire of local Indigenous communities.

“It is infuriating that no one has faced legal consequences for the Imperial Oil disaster and cover-up,” Rougeot said. “Governments watch as oil companies break the rules, raking in record profits while leaving an environmental disaster. The tar sands’ toxic tailings grow larger every day, threatening rivers, wildlife, and entire communities. Imperial Oil must be charged, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s time for a moratorium on tailings growth and a credible plan to clean up this toxic mess. Anything less leaves communities at the mercy of corporate negligence.”


Jesse Cardinal, executive director at Keepers of the Water, added, “The Imperial Oil disaster confirmed what our communities have said for generations: big polluters are free to do whatever they want in our traditional territory – our backyards. The Alberta Energy Regulator has shown us over and over that it is wilfully neglecting to keep us safe from toxic waste and pollution. It must be dismantled and rebuilt with a co-governing body, where downstream impacted Indigenous communities have policy-making authority and leadership roles.”

The public only learned about the leak after a subsequent spill at the same facility, which released 5.3 million litres of industrial waste into the environment. Despite this, a year later, Imperial Oil has not faced charges or penalties under the Fisheries Act or provincial environmental protection laws.

Print this page


Stories continue below