For more than FOUR hours toxic laden water from a burst pipe at Suncor’s tar sands facility spewed into Alberta’s environment and eventually into the Athabasca river. The government and industry response gave us more questions than answers, so Greenpeace (along with eleven other organizations representing First Nations, environmental and landowner groups) has written to the Alberta government and Suncor seeking pictures of the event and some very basic answers.

The text of this letter is below, but in many ways, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation said it best in a separate statement from the ACFN:

“Our struggles are tied together because approvals of pipelines is approvals for expansion of tar sands in my traditional territory.  This incident in Suncor’s operations is just another example of what’s at stake and the governments and industry’s failure to safeguard the environment and people. It also serves as a reminder of the weak environmental monitoring systems and the inability of the region to take on more development.”

OPEN LETTER

March 27, 2013

Diana McQueen

Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

Government of Alberta

Dear Minister McQueen:

As representatives of environmental, First Nation and landowner associations we are very concerned about the recent toxic release from a pipe at Suncor’s tar sands facility.

We are concerned about the potential impacts the spill will have on our communities, the environment and Alberta’s waterways. We are also concerned about Suncor’s inability to plan for something as simple as keeping a pipe from freezing and the public’s inability to get timely and honest information.

After 24 hours we still have no answers as to the chemical composition of what was spilled from the pipe, how much was spilled, how close was the spill to the Athabasca River, how the break was detected and how long the spill happened, nor do we have any pictures of the spill itself. This is all information that Suncor and the Alberta government should know and be immediate public knowledge but we remain in the dark.

We hereby demand the immediate release of this information including pictures so Albertans can judge for themselves the impact of this spill and so that impacted communities are fully informed before Suncor and the Alberta government meet with them.

We hope you hear our concerns and look forward to the immediate public release of this information,

Sincerely,

Alberta Surface Rights Group

Council of Canadians

Forest Ethics Advocacy

Greenpeace Canada

Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

Keepers of the Athabasca

Public Interest Alberta

RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs)

Sierra Club Prairie Chapter

Springvale Surface Rights Association

UK Tar Sands Network

 

Cc  Steve Williams, president and chief executive officer, Suncor Energy