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New rules aim to eliminate toxic tailings ponds in Canada

Companies in northeastern Alberta will face new progressive reclamation requirements.

17.Jul.16 11:44 PM
By Alesya Davydova


New rules aim to eliminate toxic tailings ponds in Canada
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) introduced new directives for companies in northeastern Alberta that aim to eliminate toxic tailings ponds from the oilsands mining region, says The Calgary Herald.

AER CEO Jim Ellis explains that Alberta companies will face new requirements: according to the new rules all tailings ponds are to be reclaimed within 10 years of the end of a mine’s life. The new regulations will substitute for the directives, put in place in 2009 that has now been rescinded.

By the end of 2013 northeastern Alberta companies had created approximately 220 square kilometres of tailings ponds, which have been the industry’s greatest environmental challenge since then. Operators use the ponds to store water, which they need to separate heavy bitumen crude from different impurities. Besides water such ponds usually contain silt, solvents and leftover bitumen.

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