Deloitte Canada is out with its report into the Alberta Energy Regulator’s (AER) handling of recent incidents at Kearl Lake.
The assessment states that AER responded properly and followed its procedures during the investigation into two environmental discharges at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake site. A claim disputed by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN).
“Deloitte’s report confirms that the AER followed existing policies, standards, procedures or processes in response to the Kearl incidents, and that protecting public safety and the environment was paramount in our peoples’ actions,” said AER Board Chair David Goldie.
A key issue for ACFN is the nine-month gap between AER learning of a seepage of industrial water at Kearl Lake, and the information being shared with local First Nations.
Indigenous people were incensed to learn they had been harvesting food from the Kearl Lake area at the same time contaminated water was present. ACFN has provided media with several pictures of wildlife, often harvested by ACFN members, eating and drinking from the potentially contaminated area.
The Deloitte report makes several recommendations including that AER bolster its communications protocols to include Indigenous stakeholders in their notification process.
On May 5, 2023, Environment and Climate Change Canada announced they were launching their own inquiry into discharges from Kearl Lake due to potential violations of the federal Fisheries Act.