An oilsands monitoring group has reported that a monitoring unit has been taken out of service because of integrity issues with the unit. Because of this step there is no available air testing unit in the Wood Buffalo region until the unit removed from service can be replaced. The main organization which operated the unit declared that it was a wreck, and it was not capable of performing the expected duties. The air monitoring agency for Alberta has been told by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association that the unit can no longer be operated. The group issued a warning last November that the unit was outdated and had structural problems. The association also told the province that a new replacement unit would be needed before the newest budget season.
Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency spokesperson Val Mellesmoen $62,000 was provided to the oilsands monitoring group for general maintenance on the monitoring unit, and a budget committee decision was that the unit could be used for another year before a replacement unit would be necessary. Mellesmoen said “This is something we contracted them to do. Without this piece of equipment, we are wondering how they would do it. If it’s a need we are going to meet that need. If it’s important it will get funded.” Without the appropriate equipment the WBEA can not properly monitor the environment and ensure that pollution is not a problem, but coming up with the funds for a new air monitoring unit could take some time and effort.