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Statement – Minister Guilbeault provides an update on federal action to address the ongoing spill situation at the Kearl Oil Sands Mine

Press Release

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, provided the following update on federal action to address the ongoing spill situation at the Kearl Oil Sands Mine:

“Since the federal government was made aware of the seepage incident at the Kearl Oil Sands Mine, we have been working to get to the bottom of it, support Indigenous communities, and collaborate on improving the reporting system for these kinds of incidents.

“After analyzing the situation, it is clear the seepage was not communicated to affected communities in a timely or appropriate way by the company or the provincial regulator, nor was the federal government made aware in a timely manner. I find this deeply concerning and expressed as much to my counterpart in Alberta.

“We hear loud and clear the concerns being expressed by Indigenous communities regarding the management of the tailings and their potential impacts on their local environment and communities. We have been in continuous contact with them, providing support through sharing information and addressing water supply concerns within federal jurisdiction.

“Today, I sent letters to Indigenous leaders about the new Notification and Monitoring Working Group, which would include the federal and provincial governments, Indigenous Nations from Fort Chipewyan, and the Government of Northwest Territories, with participation from oil sands company representatives. Northern Indigenous communities will be kept well informed and engaged. The specific mandate of the working group would be established within the first two months of the group’s formation. We are proposing a governance structure that includes co-chairs with representation from the federal, provincial, and Indigenous communities.

“From the federal perspective, an enhanced communication protocol must be developed to improve notifications at all steps in the notification process in cases of future environmental emergencies. Notification processes should be mapped out to identify improvements, including to the Canada–Alberta Environmental Occurrences Notification Agreement, and to clarify the roles and responsibilities for notifications.

“Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officials have been active on the ground. To date, Imperial Oil has demonstrated that they are complying with the directive issued under the Fisheries Act on March 10, 2023, to contain the seepage and prevent it from entering a fish-bearing waterbody, but this remains the subject of an active Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement file.

“I look forward to hearing back from all partners on the formation of the working group, so we can get started as soon as possible. And, as the parliamentary hearings get underway in Ottawa this week, we expect participants to shed light on the deficiencies of provincial or company notification systems related to this particular incident, and provide useful information for the working group.”


Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
[email protected]

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
[email protected]


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