An Oily Cover-up: The tar sands spill that keeps on spilling.

Reading the Alberta government’s new energy regulator (AER) first and second release about the tar sands spill at Cold Lake one gets the sense that a spill happened but everything is under control, clean-up efforts are already underway, and all should be back to normal soon. That is far from the reality.

The reality is that the site is in complete chaos. As many as 4 different wells have not only spilled tar sands bitumen but are STILL spilling it. The latest spill has been spilling for 6 weeks and the company and the government have no idea how to stop it.

Ongoing tar sands spill at CNRL site

A scientist on site, who spoke to the Toronto Star on condition of anonymity, for fear of losing his job, described the scene this way: 

“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

The latest spill (remember we are not talking about the other three) has already impacted over 40 hectares (about 50 Canadian football fields) of land.

Over 30 animals including beavers, ducks, and birds have already been killed as a result of the tar sands spill. Over 30,000 kg of oiled vegetation have been removed and dumped. And again -- things are still spilling!

Aside from the area of land, none of these details appear in the AER press releases regarding the incident. No where in the releases is it mentioned that animals and birds have been killed, no where does it say the amount spilled (more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen, 26,000 barrels if you also include the surface water), no pictures have been released, and no where in either release does it say they are still spilling!

The Government of Alberta, the AER, and CNRL simply didn’t mention any of these details. Even though they knew the above details they hid them from the media and the public. 

The whole thing reeks of a cover-up and the Alberta government shouldn’t get away with it. 

It is completely unacceptable for the Alberta government and it’s regulator to fail to give the public key details about the tar sands spill and to communicate that things are under control when they clearly aren’t.

We need an independent energy regulator that gives full, timely, and accurate information, and one that provides pictures of incidents, and puts the health of communities and the environment first.

A good start would be to get it’s industry friendly head removed. Sign here: http://www.leadnow.ca/alberta-regulator and spread the word.