In response to the Federal Oil Sands Advisory Panel’s report released in December, the federal Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, announced a $20-million per year comprehensive water quality monitoring system for the Athabasca River.

In its research findings, the Oil Sands Advisory Panel concluded that the environmental monitoring programs already in place are unable to definitively distinguish, with reasonable statistical confidence or power, oil sands industrial impacts from natural sources.

The new proposed monitoring system will include more frequent and widespread sampling of the Athabasca River, and will eventually encompass the monitoring of air quality and biodiversity. The program will be administered by Environment Canada and is expected to be funded by oil sands producers.