Easy to say, harder to do

Considering how long it took, what a huge job it was and how much it must have cost to clean up the former Forestry yard at Main St. and 6th Ave NE in Slave Lake, it’s mind-boggling to think how much it might cost to reclaim all the oil and gas sites around Alberta. Maybe the standards don’t need to be quite as high as for the urban sites, but still it’s a gigantic obligation. The onus should be on the companies that make the mess in the first place. However, that is way easier said than accomplished.

A mini-version of that same scenario exists in probably every town. Slave Lake has a couple of former bulk fuel sites that sit empty and undevelopable. Apparently there’s no easy way of forcing the property owners to clean up their mess. And of course nobody in their right mind would buy such a contaminated property. So they stay empty and grow weeds, with the hydrocarbon-soaked soil sitting there and doing whatever it does.

One thing governments can do better on this is to insist on higher standards for anyone getting into the fuel storage business. It probably has improved over the decades. But of course no government wants to put the bar so high as to discourage investment.

Still, improvement must be possible, by increments however small and gradual.

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