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Energy company ordered to temporarily remove water on Cold Lake Weapons Range

An environmental protection order has been issued to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) for its Primrose South bitumen release location near Cold Lake.

The order requires the temporary removal of water from a bitumen-affected waterbody before it freezes, so permanent containment measures can be put in place during the winter. Doing the work when the ground is frozen will minimize the long-term environmental impact to the waterbody.

Incident details

  • On June 24, Canadian Natural Resources Limited reported bitumen coming to surface underneath an unnamed waterbody located on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range at the CNRL Primrose South facility.
  • As part of response efforts at the site, temporary containment measures were established.
  • Three other bitumen release locations have also been identified at surface sites approximately 10 kilometres away from this location in Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s Primrose East oil and gas development, but those are NOT the subject of this order.

Environmental protection order

  • The order requires the temporary dewatering of approximately two-thirds of the 53 hectare waterbody, just prior to freeze-up.
  • A large portion of the removed water will be stored in the remaining one-third of the waterbody, so water levels can be restored in the spring of 2014.
  • Additionally, permanent containment, clean-up, remediation, and restoration of the waterbody by the spring of 2014 are required, at which time it will be refilled with stored water.

Environmental protection orders ensure that action is taken to fix an environmental problem. They are one of many tools – including education and prevention – used by Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to ensure all Albertans can continue to enjoy a safe and healthy environment. 

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