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CNRL steam operations suspended after spills

Greenpeace speaks out about the extent of damage caused by the spill

Jul 23, 2013 12:45 pm | ANDREW MENDLER

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has ordered a series of restrictions for the CNRL Primrose and Wolf Lake project sites in a response to several recent incidents involving bitumen released to the surface and into a body of water, according to an AER press release issued July 18.

The latest bitumen release, reported on June 24, was into an unnamed body of water on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, at Primrose South.

CNRL has been ordered to suspend steam operations within one kilometer of the incident and restrict all steaming operations throughout Primrose North and South. The company was also ordered to enhance monitoring and continue cleanup efforts at the specific sites.

“The Alberta Energy Regulator is investigating all instances of bitumen release to surface in relation to this project,” said AER CEO Jim Ellis. “Although there have been no risks to public safety, until we investigate these incidents, better understand the cause of these release, and what steps CNRL will take to prevent them, we are taking these measures as a precaution.”

Attempts to obtain comment from CNRL prior to the Nouvelle’s press deadline were unsuccessful.

New details emerge

In response to new details regarding the extent and ongoing nature of the spill in a story published on TheStar.com, Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema said, “The Alberta Energy Regulator sent an update on this tar sands spill on Thursday that failed to mention that tar sands bitumen was still spilling into the environment, that over 30 animals have already died and that the company doesn't know how to stop it.”

He continued, “"This reeks of a cover-up. We once again see the Alberta government and the provincial regulators hiding critical information from the public.

“It is completely unacceptable for the Alberta regulator to fail to give the public key details and to communicate that a tar sands spill is under control when it clearly isn’t. We need an independent energy regulator that gives full, timely information, provides pictures, and puts the health of communities and the environment first. No one will take Alberta's ‘world class’ claims seriously as long as oil industry profits continue to trump the public interest."

The June 24 bitumen release was the fourth reported incident on the CNRL project site this year.

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