Alberta regulator to inspect 25 coal industry dams later this year

In May of this year, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will launch an inspection program to ensure the integrity of all AER-regulated dams, covering dams used by both the oil sands and coal industries, including a review of past inspection data from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

This inspection program is expected to be complete by the end of October, and the results will be made public, the AER said in a March 11 statement.

The provincial Auditor General has released its audit of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Development’s management of the province’s Dam Safety Program. In 2014, the AER accepted responsibility for the regulation of all dams related to development of Alberta’s energy resources. The transition of these responsibilities was completed in September 2014. The AER regulates 65 of the approximately 1,500 dams in Alberta – 40 of those dams are related to oil sands development while the remaining 25 are related to coal mining.

“The Auditor General’s recommendations related to dam safety will be applied to the AER’s regulatory oversight of dams related to energy development as part of our mandate to ensure the safe, environmentally responsible development of energy resources for Albertans,” said AER President and CEO Jim Ellis. “The Auditor General has recognized the AER’s pipeline regulation performance, and Albertans can be confident that we will apply that same rigour to all AER-regulated dams.”

These kinds of dams, often seen at coal mining operations, hold back sediment from coal mining from getting into area streams. Such dams sometimes fail, dumping heavy amounts of pollutants into the local watersheds.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.