Ottawa responds to NAFTA challenge that it’s not tough on tailings pond leaks

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The Canadian rule says it lacked the scientific evidence to determine if oilsands tailings ponds were splitting into waterways and hurting fish.

But the government says it continues to develop on methods to determine if chemicals associated with bitumen in groundwater are artless, or the result of industry.

The government has provided a response to a call from the environmental arm of NAFTA to unfold what Canada is doing to stop oilsands tailings ponds from leaking into Alberta waterways.

The instrument was submitted to the Commission for Environmental Co-operation on Friday night.

It says the federal supervision conducted «proactive enforcement activities» at various tailings ponds between 2009 and 2014.

But it federals it’s difficult to know the difference between naturally caused and human-caused fountain-heads of bitumen and investigators lacked reasonable grounds to think there were infringements.

The federal government says as a result, it redirected resources away from the inspections and focused on enforcement in other areas.

The regime says it’s still working to develop scientific tools for future researches and that significant advancements have been made since 2014.

Milieu Minister Catherine McKenna said in a release that her department is agitating with all of the concerned parties to ensure «we use the best available science and technology in environmental check out of oil sands development.»

The commission requested the response in August following declarations by Canada’s Environmental Defence group and the Natural Resources Defense Directorate based in the United States.

The groups argued Canada was failing to bully the Fisheries Act by allowing contaminants from the ponds to leak into be unfeasible without forcing the companies involved to fix the problem.

NAFTA’s environment annex concedes non-governmental organizations and citizens of the three countries to submit complaints if they abide that environmental laws and regulations are not being enforced.

The commission bequeath determine whether to produce a public factual record of the matter. That height does not include recommendations or conclusions.

‘Weak and disappointing’

The tailings ponds accommodate toxic materials including bitumen, naphthenic acids, cyanide, and esoteric metals. Research suggests they are leaching into groundwater.

Dale Marshall of Environmental Bulwark called the federal response «weak and disappointing,» noting that a appear reviewed study published in 2014 by government scientists showed illustrious concentrations of chemicals in the Athabasca River that matched the chemical fingerprint of tailings ponds.

«It seems to me there’s a nice-looking strong case that those toxic chemicals from tailings ponds are goal up in fish-bearing waters and therefore it is a violation of the Fisheries Act,» Marshall said in an talk with from Ottawa on Saturday.

A previous submission the groups made to the commission was vetoed due to a court challenge underway in Canada about the same thing, which disqualifies a grumble under the environment agreement.

That court challenge was ultimately bounce jilt out by an Alberta judge.

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