April 22, 2002

Operation Cygnet targets Grande Prairie business section

A comprehensive environmental education and inspection program targeting businesses in the Bear Creek section of Grande Prairie, Alberta uncovered few major environmental concerns relating to proper waste management practices. It did indicate, however, that most businesses needed a refresher course in this area.

While recent inspections of several Grande Prairie businesses under Alberta Environment's Operation Cygnet initiative resulted in some notices and warnings issued under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, inspectors were pleased with the results overall.

Operation Cygnet was developed and carried out in response to complaints from area residents about the creek's water quality in recent years. Inspectors from Alberta Environment, Alberta Transportation and the City of Grande Prairie visited 298 businesses and issued notices to 39 companies for infractions ranging from inadequate record-keeping to lack of secondary containment for hazardous wastes.

Those companies issued notices could face environmental charges pending further investigation. Additional follow-up will be done with 118 businesses to ensure that recommended improvements are carried out and proper waste management practices are put in place.

"Programs like Operation Cygnet illustrate the importance of working with industry to help them understand the role they play in protecting our environment," said Environment Minister Lorne Taylor. "In order to hold polluters responsible and accountable for the effects of their actions on the environment, we must first make sure they understand just what they must do to protect the environment and why."

"This campaign is a good example of the kind of environmental success that can be achieved when different levels of government cooperate for a common goal," noted Grande Prairie fire prevention officer Mark Whelpton.

In addition to annual inspection programs like Operation Cygnet that focus on one geographic area or industry, Alberta Environment conducts more than 1,000 random, unannounced spot checks of industry across the province every year as part of its regular compliance assurance program.

More information is available from Kim Hunt at Alberta Environment, 780/910-0138, or Mark Whelpton, 780/538-0393.

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