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Tailings samples are being tested during a tour of Imperial's oil sands research centre in Calgary, in 2018.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The federal environment minister wants to set up a new group with the Alberta government and Indigenous communities to monitor contamination problems in the oil sands.

Steven Guilbeault proposed the idea to his provincial counterpart, Sonya Savage, in a letter dated yesterday obtained by The Canadian Press.

In it, he says two releases of oil sands tailings from Imperial Oil’s Kearl oil sands mine and delays in informing people have caused Indigenous groups to lose trust.

Guilbeault wants a joint federal-provincial-Indigenous body, with input from industry, to discuss improving tailings pond remediation and containment, as well as spill or seepage notifications.

Guilbeault’s letter refers to Ottawa’s responsibilities in protecting fish habitat and treaty rights, both of which may have been affected by the Kearl releases.

A response from Savage’s office was not immediately available.

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