Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on Tree and Shrub Planting on Active Oil Sands Tailings Dams

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  • Dam safety concern over the planting of trees and woody shrubs is in conflict with progressive reclamation, which is also a desirable outcome for oil sands tailings dams. International dam safety practice commonly restricts trees and woody shrubs on the downstream slopes of dams to preclude damage to drains, aggravation of seepage and piping and to ensure the integrity of both visual and instrumentation monitoring which require access and clear sight lines. To address this issue, Alberta Environment (AENV) requested the Oil Sands Research and Information Network (OSRIN) to convene a third-party Task Force to provide independent opinion and recommendations on the subject. The Task Force met in December 2010 and has recommended that provision for trees and woody shrubs on the slopes of active oil sands tailings dam shall be considered part of the responsibility of the Engineer-of-Record and plans will be submitted to AENV, Dam Safety for approval. The Task Force appreciates that it will be customary for the Engineer-of-Record to consult with corporate reclamation specialists for input into the recommended tree and shrub planting zones and tree and shrub exclusion zones. Potential exclusion zones include local critical areas such as drains, liners, berms, drain outfalls, ditches, access ramps and adjacent to instrumentation, etc.

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    Attribution 3.0 International