This community information site has been established to provide timely and relevant information following a breach of a containment pond at the Obed Mountain Mine.
On April 28, 2014, Westmoreland Coal Company (“Westmoreland”) and Sherritt International Corporation (“Sherritt”) concluded a sale transaction that had been planned since early 2013.
Westmoreland has acquired Sherritt’s coal assets, including Coal Valley Resources Inc. (“CVRI”), which owns and operates Obed Mountain Mine (“Obed”). CVRI, under Westmoreland, will continue to own and operate Obed.
CVRI is currently working with expert consultants carrying out monitoring and remediation activities for the Obed release. While no longer the owner and operator of CVRI and Obed, Sherritt retains the ultimate responsibility for all commitments and obligations resulting from the release at Obed, including monitoring and remediation activities and addressing Aboriginal and community concerns, and is working closely with CVRI and Westmoreland on these issues.
All future updates will be issued by CVRI.
- Remediation activity over the past period has focused on re-establishing affected portions of Apetowun Creek within five kilometres of the Main Pond. This was the area of greatest disturbance and the creek channel was heavily damaged. The following activities were undertaken:
- Sediment left behind by the release was recovered.
- Bank re-establishment and recontouring was completed.
- Downed timber that was previously moved was strategically replaced to provide ground cover.
- Contouring and riprapping was completed on a culvert area.
- Assessments were completed with wildlife and aquatic habitat specialists to remediate any impacted habitat areas.
- Further assessments for the remainder of Apetowun Creek will be ongoing in May and June.
- Completed the construction of four sediment traps in Apetowun Creek. These are structural features in the creek that are in place to collect potential sediment left behind from the release.
- A number of erosion control materials have been installed along the creeks to help decrease the potential for erosion in disturbed areas.
- Data sondes were installed in Apetowun Creek to monitor the level of suspended solids. Periodic flow measurements are also being taken. These tests are in addition to the continuing water monitoring program in and around the creeks and Athabasca River.
- A regional soil sampling program has been initiated around the mine site.
- Wildlife cameras continue to be maintained and track counts were completed.
- Testing programs on the soil, sediment, deposited solids and water will continue for the foreseeable future.
- A Final Impact Assessment Report was submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator in May 2014, in keeping with the requirements of the November 19, 2013, Environmental Protection Order.
- Remediation activity has commenced along the Apetowun Creek, where solids are being recovered with excavators and trucks. Ongoing sampling is being conducted to track clean-up progress on sediment deposited by the release.
- Newly designed sediment traps have been installed adjacent to the Apetowun Creek and a new silt fence has been installed where the Plante Creek enters the Athabasca River.
- Clearing efforts are ongoing to prepare access to work sites at approved locations along the creeks. Activities are focused on stripping and stockpiling the cover soil, and installing mulch and swamp matting to stabilize these areas for crews and equipment.
- As surveys of the creeks continue, additional approval applications are being prepared and submitted for access to other sites.
- Remediation work is also underway on areas around the creeks. This includes bank re-sloping, and applying rip-rap material and erosion control measures in vulnerable areas. In addition, repairs are being carried out on affected culverts and the designs have been enhanced from the original installations to provide for fish passage.
- Approvals needed under the Water Act for remediation activities have been granted to allow for further work.
- Third-party specialists recently completed a second series of soil and sediment tests around the mine site and creek area. The test results and a summary of the findings are posted on under the “Data” tab at www.obed.ca.
- Company representatives participated in a public forum held with First Nations, Métis, government representatives, scientists and the general public at the University of Alberta on February 27, 2014. The purpose of the forum was to share the findings of an independent scientific review of the Obed Mountain Mine remediation plans. The review was conducted by leading water scientists engaged by ESRD through the University of Alberta Water Initiative.