March 27 The spillage of industrial waste water
at Suncor Energy Inc's main oil sands project had a
limited impact on the local river, Canada's No. 1 oil producer
Waste water from Suncor's oil sands operation north of Fort
McMurray, Alberta, escaped on Monday morning when a pipe broke
The Athabasca River is the main source of drinking water for
aboriginal and other communities downstream and has been the
subject of several controversial reports on its water quality.
"Based on modeling, preliminary volume calculations and the
current flow rate of the river, the process affected water may
have had a short term, negligible impact on the river," company
spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said in an emailed statement on
An estimated 350 cubic metres of contaminated water was
released into the river over a 10-hour period, the company said,
adding that it did not contain tar-like bitumen.
Oil sands firms store contaminated water, a byproduct of
stripping bitumen from the sands, in holding ponds.
Those ponds became the focus of environmental protests in
2008, when 1,600 ducks died after landing on a tailings pond
operated by Syncrude Canada Ltd.
While new regulations introduced after the mass duck deaths
aim to eliminate the toxic ponds, they remain controversial
because of the risk of spills into the Athabasca River.
"This process affected water was mixed with treated water,
prior to entering the river," Suncor said. "The ratio was
approximately six parts treated water to one part