On October 31, 2013 a breach of an onsite water containment pond occurred at the Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton, Alberta.
The release consisted of 670,000 cubic meters of process water, containing water mixed with naturally occurring materials, mainly clay, mud, shale and coal fines. Our comprehensive water sampling continues and we expect our detailed findings soon. Our experts have confirmed that based on what they have reviewed so far, the release poses no threat to public health.
There were no injuries resulting from this incident. Drainage from the pond has been stopped. Environmental regulators were notified of the event immediately and have been working with Obed management to assess environmental impacts. Remedial work on the containment pond is underway.
The released sediment, along with organic debris it collected in its path, entered the Athabasca River, creating a brownish-coloured stretch of water. This stretch measures approximately 150 km and estimates suggest it is moving down the river at a rate of 2 to 5 km per hour.
While the release is made up of natural materials, our number-one priority has been to inform communities and industries of the sediment in the river. Facilities and communities that use and draw water from the river are being advised.