CEMA Delivers Oilsands Mine End Pit Lake Guidance Document
Fort McMurray, Alberta – The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) has approved and forwarded an End Pit Lakes Guidance Document to the Government of Alberta for its consideration. The living document took several years to complete and provides a 100-year operational plan for the design and creation of the 30 proposed End Pit Lakes in the mineable Athabasca oilsands region.
CEMA defines an oilsands End Pit Lake (EPL) as:
"An engineered water body, located below grade in an oil sands post-mining pit. It may contain oil sands by-product material and will receive surface and groundwater from surrounding reclaimed and undisturbed landscapes. EPLs will be permanent features in the final reclaimed landscape, discharging water to the downstream environment."
If oil sands operators can successfully demonstrate the effectiveness of EPLs as a reclamation tool, the new lakes could also serve as a permanent alternative to the temporary tailings ponds that now store by-products of the oil sands extraction process. The Guidance Document, which was written and peer reviewed by an international team of scientists and engineers, draws on the best available science to help operators test the concept.
“CEMA doesn’t support or oppose the creation of End Pit Lakes in the closure plans of oil sands mine operators with leases in the Wood Buffalo region. But this document is currently the only one available to the planners and engineers responsible for reclaiming oil sands leases,” said CEMA Executive Director Glen Semenchuk. “The work by the End Pit Lake Task Group and its consultants is world-class and peer-reviewed.”
A multi-stakeholder, non-profit society CEMA is a key advisor to the provincial and federal governments and is committed to respectful, inclusive dialogue and collaboration. It makes recommendations to government on the management of cumulative environmental effects of regional development on air, land, water and biodiversity. CEMA has produced similar guidance documents for wetlands, soils, revegetation, and riparian areas.