Canadian Press – EDMONTON — Alberta government documents show repeated cuts to environmental monitoring despite contaminants in some waterways that exceed thresholds that are supposed to trigger increased scrutiny.
The province’s 2019 five-year monitoring plan shows stations on two rivers and a creek polluted with selenium from coal mines were mothballed. That was despite more than two decades of readings that Alberta Environment guidelines suggest should have led to closer attention.
The only station still operating is on the McLeod River about 200 kilometres downstream of the old Cheviot mine. The United Conservative government has pointed to “strict regulatory standards” in an increasingly heated debate over its plan to increase coal mining in the Rocky Mountains.
“It’s quite clear the government is undercutting the very protections they claim to have in place,” said Opposition New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt.
An independent analysis of government data has shown that the McLeod and Gregg Rivers and Luscar Creek in the Rocky Mountain foothills east of Jasper, Alta., were heavily contaminated downstream from coal mines with selenium, which is toxic at elevated levels.