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The Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alta.

MARK RALSTON/MARK RALSTON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

An independent panel has released its report on how Alberta can improve its environmental monitoring of the oil sands.

Some of the panel's 20 recommendations include the creation of an arm's-length monitoring commission with internationally recognized experts to design and maintain the system, beginning in the Lower Athabasca region.

Other recommendations include the creation of a publicly accessible system for monitoring data and reporting, and increased aboriginal input into the monitoring system design.

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The group also recommended that Alberta work with its federal counterparts so there is no duplication of effort.

Panel co-chair Howard Tennant says science must be the driver of all monitoring evaluation and reporting activities in Alberta.

The panel was promised in December after studies found serious flaws in current monitoring.

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