The Alberta Energy Regulator is temporarily suspending some monitoring efforts across the oilsands.
They note this is due to measures that have been put in place over the COVID-19 pandemic as they look to ensure everyone’s safety from the virus.
In an email sent to Mix News, the AER says protecting the environment and public safety remains their highest priority.
The AER, along with these operators, will continue surveillance on a scaled-back approach.
Companies must continue to report incidents, notifications, contraventions, and releases that have or may have the potential to impact public safety or the environment.
They’re also required to maintain bird deterrants at all mining sites.
Imperial Oil recently announced they had 50 birds pass away at their Kearl Lake site after landing in their tailings ponds. Partially oiled birds were taken to a rehabilitation centre in Edmonton, where they’ll be cleaned, assessed, and released in the coming days.
These changes are expected to be in place until the measures against COVID-19 are lifted.
Lack of Monitoring A Big Concern
One Indigenous group is speaking out against the changes to the AER’s monitoring plans.
The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation says this decision is a ‘matter of grave concern.’
“Environmental monitoring and protection are critical elements of oil sands operations that should never be considered optional,” said Chief Allan Adam, in a statement.
“We believe that maintaining these requirements while taking appropriate COVID-19 precautions is the only responsible course of action.”
The ACFN is calling on the AER to review this decision.