Obed Spill Charges
December 1, 2015
Wild Lands Advocate update from December 2015 by Brittany Verbeek, Conservation Specialist.
Finally, the Alberta Energy Regulator laid six charges following the spill from a wastewater containment pond at the Obed Mountain Coal Mine on October 31, 2013. These charges were laid only days before the two year time limit for laying charges expired. The mine site is located approximately 30 kilometres east of Hinton and the spill caused 670 million litres of coal slurry to surge into two tributary creeks that eventually flow into the Athabasca River. Two hundred and sixty-eight – that’s how many Olympic-size swimming pools of slurry spilled.
At the time of the spill, Coal Valley Resources (CVRI), a subsidiary of Sherritt International Corporation, operated the mine. The charges are for contraventions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), the Public Lands Act (PLA), and the Water Act. The first court appearance is scheduled for January 20, 2016, in Hinton Provincial Court.
Several individuals and groups, including AWA, have worked tirelessly since the spill occurred to keep the issue in the media and keep pressure on both provincial and federal regulators to press charges. We called on the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to hold themselves accountable for ensuring safe and healthy watersheds. We urged that charges and, if convicted, stiff fines were necessary to send a message to companies that accidents of this magnitude are unacceptable.
Details relating to the cause of the spill still haven’t been made public, despite many of our letters requesting this information. DFO still hasn’t laid charges under the Fisheries Act. We will continue to press the federal government to join the AER and press charges against the company.
For a pdf of the update, click here: Update: Obed Spill Charges (Dec 2015 WLA)