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NEWS: Environment Canada dismisses letter from Ecojustice, Council of Canadians and other groups

The Canadian Press reports, “Environment Canada has ruled out any further federal investigation of a recent toxic spill from Suncor’s oilsands plant into the Athabasca River, despite suggestions from an Alberta investigation that laws may have been broken.”

Environment Canada spokesperson Jirina Vlk said in a three-sentence email, “Environment Canada’s enforcement branch conducted a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the Suncor spill. There was not sufficient evidence to indicate a violation of the Fisheries Act. The file has been closed.”

The news report notes, “Her statement came in response to a letter from an environmental law firm asking what actions the federal government was taking over the spill. The letter to Environment Canada came after a provincial investigation concluded that the spilled wastewater was toxic to fish. ‘It indicates that a violation of the Fisheries Act has occurred’, said Melissa Gorrie of Ecojustice, who wrote the letter on behalf of Greenpeace, Keepers of the Athabasca, the Council of Canadians, Public Interest Alberta and the Sierra Club.”

“On March 25, a wastewater pipe at the Suncor plant near Fort McMurray froze and burst open, sending process-affected water into a partially frozen outfall pond containing treated water. An investigation by Alberta Environment found undiluted samples from the spill killed rainbow trout fingerlings exposed to it. The investigation concluded that the fish were probably killed by high levels of naphthenic acids, chemicals that occur naturally in bitumen. The undiluted samples were also found to contain levels of salts and ammonia above provincial guidelines. Metals including selenium, boron and arsenic were found at twice the recommended levels for long-term exposure.”

“Gorrie said that the groups are considering a private prosecution under the Fisheries Act.”

For more, please read:
Environmental groups request federal action over Suncor spill
Ottawa closes file on Suncor toxic spill