On April 2, 2009, Suncor pled guilty to one count related to exceeding approved discharge limits of wastewater to the Athabasca River. A subcontractor who operated water treatment facilities at two of Suncor's residential camps, pled guilty at the same time to reporting misleading or incorrect information and allowing discharges that at times exceeded the water quality limits in the operating approval. Although Suncor was not directly involved in the operation of the wastewater plant or the camp facilities, the company was the owner of the camp.
Suncor learned of the potential reporting issues in the fall of 2007 and cooperated fully in the subsequent investigation. Suncor also worked with the company that operates the camps to ensure appropriate actions were taken. The camp operator dismissed the individual who managed the plant operations and engaged a new subcontractor to manage the two treatment plants. Stakeholders were informed of the issue in October 2007 and in follow-up conversations.
The Crown acknowledged the discharges had no impact on Athabasaca River water quality. Following its guilty plea, Suncor received a $175,000 fine. Creative sentencing submitted by the Crown and Suncor directed the fine to the Alberta Waste and Waste Water Operators Association, a registered non-profit organization. The association will use the funds to update operator training course materials, finance a new water and wastewater operator scholarship and subsidize operator training courses and seminars.
Suncor is committed to being a responsible operator and we recognize the importance of protecting the quality of water in the Athabasca River. While we are grateful the discharges did no harm to the environment or human health, the fact remains we did not meet the standards set by the Province of Alberta. We are committed to working with regulators, contractors and all stakeholders to ensure this does not occur again.