Obed Mountain Mine Spill Update

November 20, 2013
News Releases

YELLOWKNIFE (November 20, 2013) - The Alberta Environment Support and Emergency Response Team has advised the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT):

  • The leading edge of the sediment plume is at Grande Rapids, about 114 kilometres upstream of Fort McMurray.
  • The average speed of the plume during the past 24 hours has been 1.3 km/hr.
  • At this rate of speed, the plume is expected to reach Fort McMurray on November 23, 2013 and Lake Athabasca on December 4, 2013.
  • New sampling points will be ahead of the plume, mid-plume and at key locations well behind the plume.
  • Behind plume samples will be assessed to ensure water is now free of contaminants.
  • Revised volume of the spill is 670,000 cubic metres.


High turbidity is being recorded at affected locations on the Athabasca River and is decreasing as the plume moves downstream.

The GNWT and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) are working with the Town of Fort Smith to place monitoring equipment and collect water quality samples from the Town’s fresh water intake during the period before and after water exposed to the plume flows through the Slave River.

Further dilution is expected as the flow of the Athabasca River decreases due to seasonal conditions and the plume enters the Peace Athabasca Delta.

The majority of water in the Slave River is from the Peace River so further dilution is expected.

The Alberta Government has released water quality results from the sediment release from Obed Mountain Mine. The Water Quality Results report can be found online at:  http://alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=3539774C6DBCD-A9D5-D0DE-96F3F3060C090544.

Alberta Environment issued an order of protection to Obed Mountain Mine yesterday.  A copy of the order can be found online at:  http://alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=353967482AD1D-ED2E-12A5-5704BD11BBA5F7B6

AANDC and GNWT will continue to work together to monitor the water and will liaise with the Alberta regulators in an on-going effort to assess the situation.

Updates will be provided on an on-going basis and we will continue to keep downstream communities informed.

For more information:

Judy McLinton
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Environment and Natural Resources
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel:  867-873-7379
Email:  judy_mclinton@gov.nt.ca