Suncor operates an industrial wastewater treatment system consisting of a series of treatment ponds. These ponds are authorized under the Environment Protection and Enhancement Act, including limited discharge into the Athabasca River upstream of Fort McKay.

In March 2011, Suncor reported a wastewater toxicity test failure, meaning levels were found to be above acceptable levels, and then closed the discharge outlet.

A number of additional wastewater toxicity test failures occurred while the Pond C discharge was closed. As part of the investigation, toxicity evaluations performed by Suncor identified that one likely source of the toxicity was dissolved organic wastewater contaminants.

Under the enforcement order, Suncor must:

  • temporarily suspend any discharges of Pond C industrial wastewater until corrective actions are evaluated;
  • identify the source of the soluble toxicity;
  • conduct an engineering audit of the wastewater treatment process to identify potential design mitigation measures; and
  • conduct enhanced monitoring of the pond system wastewater.
Additionally, other potential wastewater contaminants that may be causing toxicity will be investigated and corrective actions are to be taken to address the dissolved organic compounds in the industrial wastewater. Suncor’s proposed wastewater treatment process that is aimed to improve hydrocarbon removal in the Pond C wastewater is not expected to be effective at removing dissolved organic compounds in the wastewater.

Suncor has until April 30, 2013 to submit a Toxicity Identification/Toxicity Reduction Evaluation Monitoring Plan to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

This enforcement order is not related to this week’s release of process affected water from an outfall pond at a Suncor.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development focuses on education, prevention and enforcement to ensure all Albertans continue to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. When individuals or companies fail to comply with legislation, a number of options are available depending on the offence to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. Orders are issued under Alberta's environmental legislation to ensure immediate action is taken to correct a situation.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Nikki Booth
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.