Environmental protection order: Updates on Imperial’s actions
December 6, 2023 – Imperial continues monitoring and assessment at Kearl site
Imperial continues to provide regular updates on work underway at its Kearl oil sands facility to address four areas of shallow seepage of industrial wastewater from its operating lease area. The company can confidently report that the seepage has not reached any waterways, including the Firebag River, the Muskeg River, the Athabasca River or any other waterbodies including those in the Northwest Territories. This has been confirmed by our testing, which includes more than 2,000 samples taken from more than 500 locations, as well as testing by government. Independent testing has been undertaken by communities.
- Monitoring and assessment ongoing following the completion of construction on mitigations
- Initial data shows that the mitigations are working as intended
- Equipment in mitigation areas prepared for winter season
- Water sampling data stable, no indication of adverse impacts to the Firebag River or Waterbody 3
- No indication of adverse impacts to local wildlife or fish populations, expanded monitoring continues
- Enhanced notification protocols with communities, supporting independent testing
Construction work was completed in June on key mitigation efforts, which included expanding the existing seepage interception system with additional drainage structures, pumping wells and vacuum systems. Winterization plans have been completed for all four areas.
Monitoring and assessment work continues, which includes additional delineation work in the area to determine if any further mitigations are required. As part of this work, Imperial installed additional monitoring wells during the summer and the winter drilling program is now underway.
As part of ongoing assessment work, Imperial engaged a third-party to develop a site environmental model, which included the review of extensive drilling and sampling data, as well as work to understand potential surface and groundwater flow paths and receptors in the area.
This site model will continue to be updated as we gather more data and will be key in informing our ongoing groundwater action plans including remedial actions. The model was shared with the Alberta Energy Regulator and communities.
The results from the model continue to support our assessments to date that there is no indication of adverse impacts to wildlife or fish populations in nearby river systems or risks to drinking water for local communities.
This follows a third-party review of the source control and containment mitigations for the four identified shallow seepage locations. This review was completed in September and submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator and shared with communities. Initial data shows that the mitigations are working as intended and preventing further off-site migration of impacted water at those locations. Monitoring of these mitigations and water sampling is ongoing. Additional run time and data will be used to enhance the mitigations if necessary.
Enhanced water and wildlife monitoring continues in the area and fencing around infrastructure remains in place to prevent access. To date, there is no indication of adverse impacts to wildlife or fish populations in nearby river systems, or risks to drinking water for local communities.
Imperial is also supporting independent testing and site tours for local Indigenous communities and is providing opportunities for input into our approach to environmental monitoring activities. Indigenous communities are also conducting independent technical reviews of the company’s mitigation and monitoring plans. Community notification protocols have also been updated to ensure communities are informed early and through multiple channels.
The company also continues to provide information to regulatory officials from the Alberta Energy Regulator and government departments and has been hosting regular site tours by officials. Imperial provides monitoring data/reports to the Alberta Energy Regulator every two weeks, which are also shared with communities.
Imperial provided summary reports on root cause findings to the Alberta Energy Regulator and shared the information with communities.
|• Drainage pond overflow|
Imperial opening statement to Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development
Getting the facts – Imperial response at Kearl
Kearl water results video
Imperial’s current monitoring and water sampling data has been stable and shows no impacts to local waterways or drinking water. Watch a video detailing the Kearl water sampling and monitoring results.
Video posted/current as of March 17, 2023
Imperial media line: + 1 587 476-7010
Shane Porterfield, Socioeconomic Advisor, Athabasca Region, + 1 587 962-1369