An investigation into a 2007 leak of nearly one million litres of oily water from a wastewater pond at a Suncor oilsands site near Fort McMurray is continuing, says Premier Ed Stelmach.

The response comes hours after Alberta Liberal environment critic David Swann yesterday released a leaked internal Suncor report that cited wastewater contaminated with oil and grease from the company’s Millennium API Upgrader was released into the Athabasca River Sept 8.

“This matter has been under investigation for sometime so we are going to check into what protocol was followed,” said Stelmach.


The Liberals say a volume of water equal to one Olympic-size swimming pool was released into the river and caused an oily sheen on the river’s surface.

Swann says while the spill occurred in September, residents who live downstream in Fort Chipewyan were not told until May 6.

“Communities that were not notified that their drinking water had been contaminated with oil and grease until eight months later,” said Swann in a press release.

“I would like to know why residents — and the public — were not informed of this potential health threat immediately.”

Stelmach says officials will explore when residents were notified, and find out the level of toxicity of the tainted water.

“We are pursuing this investigation very diligently,” said Stelmach.

He also denied the Liberals’ claims of links between oilsands development and high cancer rates in the area, but he later said the province is looking into it.

“In 2006, the government, through Alberta Health and Wellness, the Cancer Board, did a study and those results remained public,” said Stelmach. “Results in that area were consistent with cancer results across the country.”