06/17/2013 03:47 EDT | Updated 06/17/2013 03:48 EDT

Alberta Pipeline Safety Report To Be Released This Summer


A report on the safety of Alberta pipelines will be released this summer - approximately one year after it was first commissioned.

Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes released a statement Monday, saying, “I’ve made a commitment to release the findings and recommendations of the pipeline safety review and will solicit public comment on it when released."

However, Hughes did not outline an exact date.

The delay in releasing the report has drawn criticism from opposing parties and groups, and many believe Hughes has been stalling.

“The fact that they’re not releasing that really leads me to be concerned about what it is we’re not hearing,” said Rachel Notley, environment critic for the Alberta NDP, told Global News.

“There’s no question that the delay is political," she continued. "“Albertans are the ones with 80 per cent of Canada’s pipeline infrastructure running under their feet, and it’s Albertans to whom this government owes a duty of care. And failure to release this report and to pursue more independent examinations into this issue is a breach of their responsibility to the Albertans who elected them.”

The report was first commissioned by the government in July 2012 - following three major breaches of oil pipelines in Alberta - and was completed in December 2012. However, it has sat on Hughes' desk ever since - with no word to its findings.

“The energy companies need to know, environmentalists need to know, the Alberta public needs to know what’s going on with our pipelines,” Wildrose energy critic Jason Hale told the Calgary Herald.

“The sooner we can get that report out, the sooner we can start working toward solutions that will help with these unfortunate incidents we’ve seen over the last few weeks.”

In the last month, an Apache Canada spill near Zama City in northern Alberta leaked 9.5 million litres of wastewater. A Plains Midstream Canada spill this past weekend leaked 950 barrels in condensates from natural gas production.

Hughes defended the delay, calling the report "fairly technical," and insisting his office was "still working their way through it."

Premier Alison Redford further defended the energy minister, telling the Herald the government is known to take its time when reviewing reports before releasing them to the public, in order to implement recommendations.

“When we’ve done this kind of work with reports, we haven’t done them simply for the sake of doing them as a political stunt,” she said. “We’ve taken meaningful steps with respect to recommendations and we’ll continue to do that,” she added.

The delay has prompted at least some Albertans to seek out other opinions regarding pipeline safety in the province.

Four conservation and landowners organizations have asked an expert from the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council to talk to them about what Albertans should be concerned about regarding the province's aging pipeline network.

"Maybe we better have somebody from the outside telling us how to run our own show," Don Bester of the Alberta Surface Rights Group said Friday. "We're not getting it from our government."

With files from the Canadian Press

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