A new air and water quality report from the Alberta government has revealed elevated levels of pollution in the oilsands.
Data in the report was collected from monitoring stations in the lower Athabasca region in 2012.
While the report shows emissions did not exceed legal limits, sulphur dioxide levels near the Mannix and Mildred Lake stations both hit three on a scale with four as the maximum.
The report says the two stations are “likely affected” by emissions from two nearby upgraders.
Water quality triggers for the Athabasca River at Old Fort Station were exceeded for nitrogen, dissolved uranium and lithium.
The findings mean that the government must take action to reduce the levels.
“Next steps are to begin a very thorough investigation of what might have caused these triggers and then what we can do to ensure that we don’t see levels getting any higher,” said government spokeswoman Katrina Bluetchen.
The Pembina Institute is concerned the government is still investigating the source of levels recorded 18 months ago.
Amin Asadollahi, oilsands program director with the Pembina Institute, said that shows a lack of urgency about the issue.
“What we are proposing at the Pembina Institute is for government as well as the Alberta Energy Regulator to take immediate steps to reduce nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions in the region.”
The report says the Alberta government’s response will be publicly available on the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development website by the end of 2014.