August 29, 2005

Alberta commission to review, advise on environmental incident response capability

A new Environmental Protection Commission will review Alberta's ability to respond to environmental incidents and make recommendations for improvement. Environment Minister Guy Boutilier said the commission will begin its work immediately, reviewing best practices for responding to environmental incidents and recommending changes the province needs to make.

Created as part of the provincial government's response to the Lake Wabamun train derailment, the commission will be headed by University of Alberta Chancellor and former Syncrude CEO Eric Newell. The other members are:

* Dr Ron Goodman, an expert on oil spill cleanup who led the Exxon Valdez cleanup in Alaska;

* Doug Goss, a lawyer with Bryan & Company who is acting as spokesperson for Lake Wabamun residents;

* Alan McFadyen, senior manager of environmental training for Petroleum Industry Training Service and managing director of Western Canada Spill Services;

* Dr Marlo Raynolds, executive director of the Pembina Institute

* Dr David Schindler, internationally recognized water expert based at the University of Alberta; and

* Al Schulz, a former assistant deputy minister for Alberta Environment and regional consultant with the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association.

The commission's job will be to:

1. Recommend any changes needed to the Alberta government's capacity to respond, where industry cannot, to environmental incidents such as the spill at Lake Wabamun.

2. Review Alberta Environment's emergency response system in order to identify recommendations for enhancement in preventing, mitigating, and responding to these incidents.

3. Review the provision of information required in a report to Alberta Environment, and the associated reporting process, regarding the products and substances involved in spills.

4. Review potential high-risk situations affecting Alberta's lakes, rivers and other water bodies, as part of the government's overall risk management strategy.

5. Review best practices for preventing, mitigating, and responding to these incidents.

6. Provide advice to the Minister and other government ministries on safety and rail transportation issues to assist them in working with the appropriate jurisdictions.

Plans call for a progress report to be delivered to Boutilier by the end of September, with a final report coming at the end of November.

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