On Thursday April 20, Ecology Ottawa joined protesters in a rally against Imperial Oil and in solidarity with the Indigenous nations impacted by the toxic tailings leak at the Kearl oilsands in Alberta. Whilst we gathered on Sparks Street and then moved to Parliament Hill, Imperial Oil executives were called to explain to a Parliamentary Committee why it took nine months to tell First Nations and governments that wastewater from a tailings pond had spilled into four areas about 100 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta.
The amount of toxic waste spilled into the environment and reaching into the Athabathsca River was the equivalent of two Olympic-sized swimming pools. First Nations communities living downstream had continued living off the land, fishing from the river and harvesting moose over the 9 months before they were finally informed about the toxic spill. Such tailings consist of silt, clay, water and residual bitumen and may hold chemicals like arsenic, ammonia, lead, mercury, naphthenic acids, hydrocarbons and phenolic compounds. Such egregious disrespect for human life must stop now. You can read more about the hearings and the rally on the CBC, in the National Observer, in the Globe and Mail and in Reuters.