TOTAL North Mine Project Hearing Adjourned

FT. MCMURRAY, EDMONTON - Following a day of legal arguments, the Joint Review Panel for Total's Joslyn Mine hearing has adjourned to review a number of concerns including the Constitutional Question of Treaty Rights infringements raised by Mikisew Cree and the inadequacy of the environmental assessment provided by Total as raised by the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition.

Given the complexity of issues raised, Sierra Club Prairie commends the panel for taking its time to review the project proposal and hopes it uses this time to ensure that the environmental assessment is truly rigorous and respects treaty obligations.
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ERCB approves Shell Canada tailings plan

CALGARY - Alberta's energy watchdog has given Shell Canada some leeway in approving the company's plans to deal with waste from its Muskeg River oilsands mine.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board acknowledges a consolidated tailings plant Shell plans to build will not be up and running until 2012.

"Until the new tailings plant is operational, Shell will not be able to achieve the ERCB’s annual fine tailings reduction requirements," the board said.

However, from 2013 onwards, the ERCB has directed Shell to exceed the annual fine tailings reduction requirements in order to achieve a cumulative overall fine tailings reduction that is equal to or exceeds requirements by no later than the end of 2017.

Last year, the ERCB issued Directive 74, which ordered oilsands miners to clean up their tailings ponds, and submit plans outlining how they intend to achieve that.
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$2B oilsands expansion approved

EDMONTON — Cenovus Energy's Foster Creek underground oilsands project has won approval for an estimated $2-billion expansion that will see 1,000 construction jobs created at the site 120 kilometres north of Bonnyville.

The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board approval announced Monday covers the next three phases of expansion (F, G and H) for Alberta's oldest and largest steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project.

"We will continue building the project in phases, making improvements with each one," spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari said.

Engineering on Phase F is already underway and preliminary ground work is expected to start soon.

Cenovus has its own construction management team, and the "cookie cutter" approach to the modules for each phase has resulted in industry-leading efficiencies.... Read more »

Back to nature a tricky task

FORT MCMURRAY - In the checkerboard of test ponds at Syncrude's wetland research site, Mother Nature has won some games and lost others.

Among the squares, there are certain ones with barely a sprig of green poking out from the silty water.

Other experimental combinations are more successful, though it takes a scientific eye to pick out the real winners. That's because the target is the recreation of a specific kind of wetland, called a fen. A fen is a wetland that is fed by groundwater, which is a heck of a thing to recreate in a landscape that was dug up extensively and then, in some cases, filled in with tailings.

Oilsands operations are increasingly striving to reach these milestones, partly because government is ordering them to do it in their approvals, but also because there is mounting pressure to improve the environmental image of oilsands development.... Read more »

Adjourn Tar Sands Hearings Says Sierra Club Prairie

FORT MCMURRAY, EDMONTON — The Panel reviewing the Total Joslyn North tar sands mine  should adjourn its hearings until a sustainability framework is prepared says Sierra Club Prairie.

“Total’s environmental assessment is completely inadequate, especially the assessment of cumulative effects of the Project” says Sheila Muxlow, director of Sierra Club Prairie .  “We support the adjournment request of the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition and urge the Panel to take some additional time to develop a sustainability framework that protects the ecosystems and communities in the Athabasca Region.”... Read more »


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