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New rules for oilsands tailings ponds

The province has introduced new rules for oilsands tailings ponds.

Minister of Environment Kyle Fawcett says the management frameworks will limit the size of tailings ponds and use of water from the Athabasca River , as well as make sure they’re treated and reclaimed throughout the life of a project.

“In that we have a commitment to make sure that all of those tailings are in a ready to reclaim state 10 years afterwards. If those targets aren’t reached, there are appropriate management mechanisms and financial penalties in place so that taxpayers aren’t on the hook.”

Fawcett says the province worked with industry on the plan, which also relies on companies being innovative.

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This is the second time government has tried to regulate tailings cleanup.

Directive 74 was brought in in 2009, but Fawcett has admitted it was not a “realistic” framework.

“We believe this one is; we have taken the learnings from Directive 74 and what was good in Directive 74 and what was not necessarily good, […] not only do we have an improved framework, we have a framework that also considers the legacy tailings that are currently on the landscapes.”

The Alberta Energy Regulator has suspended the directive so it’s not enforcing requirements that are no longer applicable with the province’s new direction.

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