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Greenpeace calls for Imperial Oil to be charged over Kearl spill, projects message on Supreme Court 

(OTTAWA) Greenpeace Canada projected a message on the walls of the Supreme Court of Canada, calling for the federal government to charge Imperial Oil in connection with the leaks and a spill at a tailings pond at its Kearl Oil sands operation. The message calling on the federal government to “Charge Imperial Oil Now” was projected yesterday night as Imperial Oil representatives are set to appear before the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development this afternoon [1]. 

Imperial Oil has been aware of at least four leaks from its Kearl oil sands tailings ponds since May 2022 but only informed local communities in February 2023 after a major spill from a holding pond it had set up [2]. Recent tests found toxic substances exceeding government guidelines in a local fish-bearing lake, which indicates a violation of the federal Fisheries Act [3]. At hearings on Monday, Indigenous leaders testified to the continued pattern of Indigenous rights violations and environmental racism by industry and questioned who the regulator is trying to protect – people or profit [4].  

“The committee heard extensive testimony from Indigenous community leaders earlier this week on how the Alberta Energy Regulator has been ‘captured’ by the oil industry it is supposed to control,” said Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist at Greenpeace Canada. “Nine months of silence on a major toxic leak would never have been tolerated if it happened upstream from Calgary or Toronto. Environment Canada must send a clear message that this kind of environmental racism is no longer allowed, by prosecuting Imperial Oil to the full extent of the law.”

The message Greenpeace Canada projected is in solidarity with Keepers of the Water, Indigenous Climate Action and Environmental Defence who are calling for Imperial Oil to be held accountable for the destructive impacts of their activities on communities and climate [5] [6].

Keepers of the Water and Environmental Defence Canada are also organizing a rally on April 20 at 3PM in support of the impacted communities [7].


Notes to editors: 

[1] Brad Corson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Oil; Simon Younger, Senior Vice-President, Upstream at Imperial Oil; Helga Shield, Manager of environment, regulatory and socioeconomics at Imperial Oil.

[2] Indigenous community accuses Imperial Oil, Alberta government of covering up industrial leak, Globe & Mail, March 1, 2023.

[3] Alberta Energy Regulator statement

[4] First Nations blast Alberta Energy Regulator at hearing; minister promises reform, CBC, April 17, 2023

[5] Statement from Indigenous Climate Action, March 2, 2023

[6] Statement from Keepers of the Water and Environmental Defence, February 9, 2023

[7] More info about the rally.

For more information information, please contact: 

Laura Bergamo, Head of Media, Greenpeace Canada; 438 928-5237