Reclamation & Remediation

 

Reclamation & Remediation

In March of 2014, the AER assumed responsibility for regulating reclamation and remediation activities for all oil, gas, and coal operations in the Alberta. These activities were formerly the responsibility of Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), previously known as Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

As a full life-cycle regulator—from application and construction to abandonment and reclamation—the AER oversees the responsible development of our province’s resources; we work closely with AEP to uphold Alberta’s environmental legislation.

The AER does not have jurisdiction over federal land. The Indian Oil and Gas Commission issues reclamation certificates on First Nations land.

Reclamation

Reclamation defined in the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Conservation and Reclamation Regulations to mean any or all of the following:

  • removing equipment or buildings and other structures
  • decontaminating buildings or other structures or land or water
  • stabilizing, contouring, maintaining, conditioning, or reconstructing the surface of the land to a state of “equivalent land capability”

Basically, “equivalent land capability” means that energy companies must do everything they can to return the land to a state functionally equivalent to what it was before the development took place. The land needs to be able to support various uses, even if those uses are slightly different from what the land supported before the activity began. The time it takes to complete the reclamation can vary; regardless, the AER must be satisfied that all requirements have been met before certifying a site reclaimed.

Remediation

Contamination of soil, surface water, or groundwater can occur when substances used or produced in energy development are released to the environment. Energy companies must manage any contamination from their licensed activities or approved facilities.
Adequately managing contamination includes

  • containing and controlling the source of contamination,
  • delineating the extent of the spill both horizontally and vertically,
  • ensuring receptors are not adversely impacted at any point during remediation, and
  • remediating the contamination in a timely manner.

Potential contamination and remediation (managing or removing contaminated material) is considered throughout a project’s life cycle, from application to project closure. The AER has the authority to take enforcement action against operators that fail to manage contamination, particularly if the contamination results in damage to the environment or impairs public health. Releases must be reported immediately upon discovery to the AER. The brochure Release Reporting Requirements summarizes the AER’s reporting requirements.

Request for No Entry

Getting a reclamation certificate confirms that all reclamation requirements have been met. A reclamation certificate is required for closure and allows operators to end their surface leases.

When the land has not been used in any way, even temporarily, for construction, operation, or reclamation, the proposed site is not considered specified land and closure is achieved through the no-entry process.

If the site was never entered for any oil and gas activity, the licensee can complete the Request for No Entry Cancellation form. More information on this form can be found within the Upstream Oil and Gas Cancellation of Undisturbed Sites on Public Land information letter.