Statement from Aliénor Rougeot, Climate and Energy Program Manager

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat – We applaud the federal government for moving forward with a formal investigation of Imperial Oil under the Fisheries Act. Imperial Oil must be held accountable for the irreparable harm to the environment and Indigenous communities caused by the toxic leak from its Kearl mine.

With reports confirming Imperial Oil’s leaking wastewater contained high levels of naphthenic acids and other substances harmful to fish, we expect Imperial Oil to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for the damage caused.

It is unacceptable that Imperial Oil covered up the toxic leak from its Kearl facility for nine months in 2022, a year during which the company made record-high profits thanks, in part, to record levels of production at the Kearl mine. The company’s CEO, Brad Corson, is the highest-paid energy CEO in the country, earning $17.3 million this past year. Imperial Oil, its executives, and its shareholders are getting rich off the pollution of Indigenous communities and the environment.

The important step taken by the federal government today must be the first of many. It is time for Canada to work with impacted Indigenous nations to ensure all the tar sands toxic tailings ponds are fully cleaned up and paid for by the oil industry.

Background information: 

  • The announcement follows a week of parliamentary hearings where members of parliament interviewed representatives from impacted Indigenous Nations, Imperial Oil, and the Alberta Energy Regulator.
  • Earlier this week, Indigenous and environmental groups sent a letter to the federal and Alberta governments, urging action on the Imperial Oil leak, such as bringing federal charges under the Fisheries Act.
  • The Imperial Oil tailings disaster allowed 5.3 million litres of toxic wastewater to overflow into the environment and an additional unknown volume of tailings to drain into the Muskeg.
  • The tar sands’ tailings “ponds” now contain over 1.4 trillion litres of waste, covering an area more than 2.6 times the size of Vancouver.
  • For more information about tar sands tailings “ponds” please see this fact sheet.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

– 30 –

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Paula Gray, Environmental Defence,