For Immediate Release
First Nation Discovers Large Petrochemical Sheen on Athabasca River; Alberta’s New Energy Regulator Missing in Action
FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta - 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: http://www.flickr.com/x/t/0092009/photos/itstimetoriseup/sets/72157634517109943
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The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is a Denesuline community based in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. Members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation hold rights that are protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In September 2011, ACFN filed suit against Shell Oil Canada regarding tar sands open pit mining on tribal lands.