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Oil sands leak in Alberta heightens First Nations’ calls to clean up tailings – The Globe and Mail


In early February, Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta started fielding calls from community members after the provincial regulator revealed toxic waste water had been leaking for months from a tailings pond at Imperial Oil’s IMO-T Kearl oil sands mine.

Many in the community hunt and fish downstream of Canada’s huge bitumen mines, and wanted to know if the game meat in their freezers was safe to eat.

“I just told them throw the meat away,” Adam said. “Don’t even feed it to your dog.”

The seepage was discovered by Imperial, a unit of Exxon Mobil, last May but local communities only learned the water contained tailings in February, after a second leak occurred.

Imperial CEO Brad Corson apologized for the leak and the lapse in communication during questioning at a parliamentary committee in Ottawa last week.

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