Cold Lake Air Weapons Range

New Report Chronicles Alberta Regulator’s Continuous Failure to Address CNRL’s Uncontrolled Tar Sands Seepage

CNRL Cold Lake tar sands bitumen oil spill

A draft version of a new investigative report released this week by Global Forest Watch and Treeline Ecological Research argues the series of underground leaks currently releasing a mixture of tar sands bitumen and water into a surrounding wetland and forest on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range is related to a similar set of spills caused by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) in-situ operations in 2009.

The cause of the 2009 seepage was never determined and details of an investigation by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), then called the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), weren’t made public until last year, four years after the initial incident.

The new report, called “CNRL’s Persistent 2013 Bitumen Releases Near Cold Lake, Alberta: Facts, Unanswered Questions, and Implications,” takes aim at the AER for allowing certain in-situ, or underground, tar sands extraction technologies to continue without adequately addressing “major unknowns.” The independent investigation reveals the AER continually fails to protect the public interest in relation to these spills and that both industry and government demonstrate 'dysfunction' in their lack of transparency with the public.

Tar Sands CSS Blowout Contaminates Lake, Creates "A Whole New Kind of Oil Mess"

Near site of underground bitumen oil spill, by Emma Pullman

“We don't know what the hell is going on under the ground.”

That's what Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation recently told me. On June 27, an oil spill occurred at Canadian Natural Resources Limited's (CNRLPrimrose operations 75km east of Lac la Biche. The spill happened on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), located in a region The Royal Canadian Airforce calls “the inhospitable wilds of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.” This 'inhospitable' region happens to be in her community's traditional hunting territory where her family traditionally hunted and trapped and where her elders are buried.

DeSmog Canada reported a release of bitumen emulsion, a mixture of heavy tar sands crude and water from in-situ (in ground) oil production.

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