Suncor Energy

Mon, 2013-06-17 17:06Guest
Guest's picture

Tar Sands Giant Suncor Announces Fewer Safety Checks To Avoid “Foregone Revenue”

This is a guest post by Don Lieber, originally published on PlanetSave.

Suncor Energy, the largest producer in Canada’s tar sands oil operations, has announced it will require fewer major safety maintenance “shut-down” checks at its Alberta production sites, decreasing the required checks to once every five years, down from its prior four-year schedule.

Steve Douglas, Suncor’s vice president of investor relations, said that routine safety shut downs cost the company money due to necessary replacement of equipment, labor, and lost revenue during the shut-down. This was reported by Reuters on June 7.

Ignoring the implications for public health, safety, and carbon-related climate consequences of tar sands operations, Douglas focused on revenue stream, saying, “You’re entirely down during a maintenance period. There’s significant foregone revenue during a period like that. It’s material.”

With not just a hint of Orwellian logic, the decision to require fewer major safety checks was made despite many high-profile Suncor accidents in recent months and years.

Tue, 2013-06-11 19:10Heather Libby and Carol Linnitt
Heather Libby and Carol Linnitt's picture

Fort McMurray, Home to 176 Square km of Tar Sands Tailings Ponds, Overwhelmed by Floods

On Friday the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta government's industry regulator, released a report stating that tar sands companies have failed to comply with pre-existing agreements to limit the amount of water used in tar sands extraction and processing as well as the amount of polluted water that ends up in the region's growing toxic tailings ponds.

The release of the report coincides with massive floods near Fort McMurray, wreaking havoc on the city's infrastructure. Since Friday the region has seen between 80 and 180mm of precipitation. Major highways have been closed, roads have been partially washed out, buildings flooded and homes evacuated. The city of Fort McMurray officially declared a state of emergency today, while unseasonably high temperatures prompt snow melt and rain is forecast to continue throughout the week.

The immediate question is apparent: what threat does the flooding pose to the massive tailings ponds lining the Athabasca River and the millions of litres of toxic contaminants they contain?

Subscribe to Suncor Energy