When M.D. of Lesser Slave River Reeve Murray Kerik got a call recently from a CBC reporter, he was surprised, to say the least. He says she told him it had come to light that the Enerchem refinery, north of Slave Lake, has been operating all these years without proper permission from the province. She wanted to know if the M.D. knew anything about it.
Nope. That’s Crown Land, Kerik said. They don’t ask us for permission for anything.
Kerik had always assumed – as had pretty much everybody – that everything was legit.
But according to the CBC story by reporter Wallis Snowden, when Alta Gas bought Enerchem in 2022, it let the government know “it had no provincial approval, according to Alberta Environment.”
The plant was built in 2001, to turn crude oil into other products, used in the industry, as well as specialized consumer products.
There’s no suggestion Enerchem has violated regulatory expectations. But while the oversight gets worked out, the refinery has been slapped with an enforcement order, due to no approval having “been issued to any person for the construction, operation and reclamation of the plant,” in contravention of the act, according to the CBC article.
The enforcement order, Snowden writes, must monitor for water, air, soil and moisture. It also calls for a reclamation plan, record-keeping and regular reporting.
The plant is able to keep operating.
Kerik, who is not a big fan of Alberta Environment at the best of times, makes it clear enough who he thinks is at fault.
“You hope they’re following all the rules and regulations,” he told Snowden. “But is that not where Alberta Environment is supposed to be the watchdog?”
by Joe McWilliams