First Nation discovers large petrochemical sheen on Athabasca River; Alberta’s new energy regulator missing in action Press Release by Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, July 7, 2013
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is demanding answers and action from the Alberta government following reports of a large possibly petrochemical spill into the Athabasca River. The large visible peteochemical sheen may be from a previous spill that regulators failed to contain or from a new release. Either way it has been left unaddressed and has forced the community to close the communities water intake.
Early Saturday morning a community member from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) reported a large oily sheen on the Athabasca river about 60 km north of Fort McMurray that according to his account stretched over 5 km. The sheen, that from pictures and eye-witness account appears to be petrochemical in nature, was reported both to the Alberta Governments new Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources. After silence from both government bodies, Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam flew over the site late Saturday afternoon reporting that the sheen now stretched for over 100 kms, and had soaked river banks. Nation members also took samples and pictures of the spill.
“Our Nation faces another toxic threat to our water supply and our calls for action are met by silence by the Alberta government and their new energy regulator. Our members appear to be the only world class monitoring system Alberta has,” said Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam. The finding of the spill happened on the same day that hundreds of people from all across Canada gathered in Fort McMurray to participate in a healing walk through the inundated tar sands region. “It’s tragically ironic that we would find this sheen on the same day that we walk to heal the land from tar sands destruction,” remarked Adam. “This spill is one of the number of reasons why we walk and is a oily reminder of Alberta’s growing pipeline and tar sands problem. The Alberta government needs to address these problems, ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.”
For more information contact: Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598
Northern Alberta First Nations community voices concern over sheen on Athabasca River by Caley Ramsay, July 7, 2013, Global News
A northern Alberta First Nation is demanding answers after discovering what it calls a petrochemical sheen on the Athabasca River. Early Saturday morning, members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation reported a large oily sheen on the river, about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. They say it stretches over 100 kilometres and has soaked the river banks. “So far, no one knows where it’s coming from and the community is very concerned,” said Eriel Deranger, communications coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. The First Nation believes it may be from a previous spill that was not contained, or a new release. Members say the sheen was reported to the Alberta Government’s Alberta Energy Regulator and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD). “Our Nation faces another toxic threat to our water supply and our calls for action are met by silence by the Alberta government and their new energy regulator. Our members appear to be the only world class monitoring system Alberta has,” said Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam.
Officials from ESRD say they were notified of the substance Saturday morning. Industries have been contacted and there have been no reports of failures, ESRD said Sunday. An aircraft was sent overhead Saturday and nothing out of the ordinary was found, according to ESRD. Water samples from the river will be taken in for testing, and government officials say they will continue to monitor the situation. After being notified of the potential release Saturday, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo isolated the Fort Chipewyan Water Treatment facility as a precautionary measure. Water intake was temporarily shutdown, as well. Officials from the RMWB say there has been no impact to water quality, and there is a safe and adequate water supply available to the Fort Chipewyan community. “There is no need to conserve or boil water,” said Kevin Scoble, director of Environmental Services for the RMWB. “We have sufficient reserves in place.” [Emphasis added]