A mounting number of groups are petitioning Alberta’s Minister of the Environment Diana McQueen for answers regarding two spills from tar sands giant Suncor Energy. 

The letter comes just over a week after eleven groups sent an initial letter to the Minister after the 2,200 barrel toxic water release at Suncor’s tar sands operation.

Join the more than 14,000 people who have signed a related public petition launched by the corporate accountability group SumOfUs

The 44 groups are hoping the Minister will immediately release pictures and answers to the questions outlined in the letter. The letter reads:

April 3, 2013

Diana McQueen

Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

Government of Alberta


Dear Minister McQueen,

As representatives of environmental, First Nation, labour and landowner groups we are very concerned about the startling details released last week regarding the 2011 3-day Suncor toxic release into the Athabasca river and the continued lack of information regarding the March 25, 2013 pipe burst that also went into the Athabasca.

Premier Redford has continued to assert her government’s transparency but we continue to see instances where the public cannot even get simple answers. These latest two shocking incidents are only the latest example of this government’s lack of transparency.

Related to the 2011 Suncor toxic release into the Athabasca we ask that you immediately publicly release answers to the following questions:

  • Why is information on this 2011 spill only being made public now?
  • Will the deadline for filing a private prosecution be extended, given that the delay in releasing information has caused the normal filing period to expire?
  • When did the company first report the event?
  • What chemicals went into the river?
  • What chemicals are in the pond now?
  • Why were charges never laid against Suncor?
  • What percentage of tar sands company exceedances & releases are prosecuted?
  • How many other incidents or releases are there?

Related to the March 25, 2013 Suncor pipe rupture and release into the Athabasca river we want you to immediately and publicly release answers to the following:

  • Who initially reported the rupture (company representative, public citizen etc.)?
  • When did they discover it?
  • What happened in the 7.75 hours after the rupture occurred and before the Government of Alberta was notified?
  • What specific chemicals were in the pipeline?
  • How close was the rupture epicenter to the Athabasca River?
  • When will all pictures of the event be released?

Finally, we need the long awaited independent monitoring system instituted as soon as possible. A growing number of Albertans don’t trust the government or the tar sands industry to give them factual information, thus an independent monitoring system is key to restoring trust.

In the future we also hope that rather than the public forcing the release of such information that it will instead be forthcoming from the government that the people of Alberta elected. Each time there is an exceedance or incident the public should be notified in a very clear way and should have basic details of the event and be able to see pictures of the event.

This public transparency needs to become the norm in Alberta rather that the rarity it currently is.


Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

Alberta Surface Rights Group

Alberta Wilderness Association

Canada's Citizens Climate Lobby

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Canadian Youth Climate Coalition

Catch the Keys


Central Athabasca Stewardship Society

Change Alberta

Clearwater Foundation

Climate Action Network

Climate Fast

Council of Canadians

David Suzuki Foundation

Environmental Defence

Forest Ethics Advocacy

4RG (For Our Grandchildren)

Georgian Triangle Association

Global Community Monitor

Global Exchange

Green 13

Greenpeace Canada

Hungry for Climate Leadership

Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

Keepers of the Athabasca

L'Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique

Living Oceans Society

Natural Resources Defense Council

Onoway River Valley Conservation Association

Pipe Up Network

Polaris Institute

Public Interest Alberta


Sierra Club of Canada

Sierra Club B.C.

Sierra Club Prairie Chapter

Society of High Prairie Regional Environmental Action Committee

Springvale Surface Rights Association

United Landowners of Alberta

West Coast Environmental Law

Windfall Ecology Centre


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