Q & A
Why did the breach occur?
We are currently reviewing all aspects of the breach and doing everything to determine the cause. One of the first things we did was call upon the services of a geotechnical expert to assess the stability of the existing pond at Obed and review all the ponds in our inventory. [Updated – 11/14/13]
What is the impact on human health?
The Government of Alberta has issued a media release stating that water sample tests do not indicate any health risks. As a precaution, they advised municipalities not to draw water from the Athabasca River until further analysis is done. In addition, Sherritt has commissioned the development of an ecological and human health risk assessment.
What is the impact on fish and water?
We have a team of independent fish and hydrology experts conducting water sample testing at numerous points along the Athabasca River to determine impacts. We are expecting results from the testing soon which will inform our level of certainty on any impacts.
What are we doing about it?
We have retained leading specialists to survey the impacts and begin clean-up, where possible. Clean-up has already started in some locations, and we are working closely with all the applicable federal and provincial regulatory authorities. We are committed to minimizing any potential environmental impacts associated with this incident.
When did the breach occur?
The breach occurred at approximately 8:00 p.m. (MST) on October 31st. We immediately enacted our response procedure, which involved mobilizing to protect the safety of our team at the site, contacting government authorities and initiating assessments of what had happened at the site.
How much sediment and water was released and what is the composition of the release?
Approximately 670 million litres of water and low concentrations of suspended solids, mainly clay, soil and particles of coal were released.
How was information about the release communicated to the communities?
On November 1st, both Sherritt and the Government of Alberta began reaching out to communities and industry along the Athabasca River. Sherritt’s CEO arrived at the site and met with nearby mayors, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the Environment Minister of Alberta. The Government has issued media releases. Calls to communities and industry continue. We set up an information email address to respond to questions from the community: firstname.lastname@example.org.