Suncor Fort Hills Site, Surface Runoff Release
On Monday, October 9, 2023, Suncor reported to the EDGE call centre an unplanned release of approximately 662 cubic metres of surface runoff from a containment pond located adjacent to the Fort Hills Oil Sands Project into the Athabasca River.
The pond the water was released from is not related to mining, extraction, or tailings processes, and contains precipitation and snow melt water. Suncor has taken water quality samples of the pond, and the results indicate that the water that was released into the river was within release criteria parameters for discharge. An AER Inspector visited the site on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, and confirmed that the release had been stopped.
On November 24, 2023, Suncor informed the AER that further investigation of this matter indicated the unplanned release volume may have been closer to 10,000 cubic metres. Suncor has also informed the AER that the unplanned release may have been in effect since June 2022 and believe the cause of the release is likely to be a faulty valve.
Inspectors from the AER visited the site on November 24, and established the valve is not currently leaking. We will be reviewing all sampling data from June 2022 to November 2023. The AER have also directed Suncor to provide rationale for the estimated volume released from the pond.
Suncor and the AER notified communities and stakeholders in the area on October 10, 2023. Following receipt of the updated information, further notifications were made by Suncor and the AER on November 24, 2023. Environment Canada and Climate Change has also been notified through Alberta’s EDGE notification system.
The incident has been referred to the AER’s investigation team for triage.
The AER will provide updates as information becomes available.