EDMONTON – The Alberta Energy Regulator says it will inspect the structural integrity and review the safety records of 65 dams used by the oilsands and coal industries in the province.
The announcement follows criticism by the auditor general that the provincial government is failing to properly regulate Alberta’s network of dams and tailings ponds.
The 65 dams are used to contain industrial waste and the regulator says 32 are classified as posing either “extreme” or “very high” environmental consequences if they were to fail.
CEO Jim Ellis said the regulator will apply the same safety standards to these dams that are used on oil and natural gas pipelines in order to ensure the safe, environmentally responsible development of energy resources.
“The auditor general has recognized the AER’s pipeline regulation performance, and Albertans can be confident that we will apply that same rigour to all AER-regulated dams,” he said. The regulator took responsibility for regulating energy industry dams from Alberta’s Environment Department last year.
Of the 65 dams, 40 are related to the oilsands industry and 25 are related to coal mining.
The inspections and review of past safety records are to begin in May and wrap up by October, with the results to be made public.
A list of oilsands industry dams that pose either “extreme” or “very high” consequences if they were to fail indicates there is no annual performance report or safety review for Syncrude’s Mildred Lake dam.
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