First Nation discovers large petrochemical sheen on Athabasca River; Alberta’s new energy regulator missing in action

First Nation discovers large petrochemical sheen on Athabasca River; Alberta’s new energy regulator missing in action

July 7, 2013, FORT MCMURRAY – The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is demanding answers and action from the Alberta government following reports of a large possibly petrochemical spill into the Athabasca River. The large visible peteochemical sheen may be from a previous spill that regulators failed to contain or from a new release. Either way it has been left unaddressed and has forced the community to close the communities water intake.


Early Saturday morning a community member from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) reported a large oily sheen on the Athabasca river about 60 km north of Fort McMurray that according to his account stretched over 5 km.

The sheen, that from pictures and eye-witness account appears to be petrochemical in nature, was reported both to the Alberta Governments new Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources. After silence from both government bodies, Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam flew over the site late Saturday afternoon reporting that the sheen now stretched for over 100 kms, and had soaked river banks. Nation members also took samples and pictures of the spill.


“Our Nation faces another toxic threat to our water supply and our calls for action are met by silence by the Alberta government and their new energy regulator. Our members appear to be the only world class monitoring system Alberta has,” said Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam.


The finding of the spill happened on the same day that hundreds of people from all across Canada gathered in Fort McMurray to participate in a healing walk through the inundated tar sands region.


“It’s tragically ironic that we would find this sheen on the same day that we walk to heal the land from tar sands destruction,” remarked Adam. “This spill is one of the number of reasons why we walk and is a oily reminder of Alberta’s growing pipeline and tar sands problem. The Alberta government needs to address these problems, ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.”


Pictures taken of the spill can be viewed here:


For more information contact:

Eriel Deranger, ACFN Communications Coordinator 780-903-6598



9 thoughts on “First Nation discovers large petrochemical sheen on Athabasca River; Alberta’s new energy regulator missing in action

  1. “Canada, Oh, Canada, wherefor art thou?”

    “I have taken refuge in the hearts of the First Nations people, as the corporate cronies of the Harper Government seek to sacrifice My Heart to the The Money Changers…”

    “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini.

  2. Canada seems to care less about the beauty of its country and the environment. What a shame, they’re destroying it at an alarming rate.

  3. The source of this pollution MUST be determined and made public. The oil corporations MUST take responsibility for the consequences of their industry.

  4. There is a very distinct possibility that the tailing ponds near the Athabasca might have either overflowed or been washed over by the river during the flooding, and there’s a way to find out for sure if it’s true or just an ugly rumor, but it has to be an organization with resources… the Google Earth pictures from before the flood shows how close the tailing ponds are to the river, if someone from a large organization could contact Google Earth and find out if satellite pictures are available from during the flooding…? It’s something that can’t be done by a street activist like me, so I’m throwing the idea around and hoping someone does it.

  5. It sickens me that big industry has more influence and pull than the people of Canada’s health and rights.

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