Toxic chemical levels higher in water downstream of Alberta oilsands plants Vancouver Sun - This photo shows how at least one company is bulldozing right to the Athabasca River’s edge. EDMONTON – Levels of toxic chemicals in the Athabasca watershed are up to 50 times higher downstream of oilsands development, a new University of Alberta study …The research, spearheaded by renowned aquatics ecologist David Schindler, also estimates that Suncor and Syncrude deposit the equivalent of an oil spill’s worth of bitumen into the surrounding environment each year. The chemicals are dispersed through two main modes: on airborne particles from plant stacks and dusty mine sites; and through run-off from developed sites. The full paper will be available at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science website at www.pnas.org
Oilsands pollution far exceeds official estimates: independent study iNews880.com An independent study suggests that pollution from Alberta’s oilsands is nearly five times greater than official estimates. The study says toxic emissions from the controversial industry are the equivalent of a major oil spill repeated every year. Government and industry officials have said contamination in the area’s soil and rivers occurs naturally, but the report links it firmly to oilsands mining.
Its outsize economic importance has prompted Canada’s Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to champion the industry. After the November election in the United States, Harper said he would seek to devise a continental climate change pact with the Obama administration. Harper suggested that any agreement would include an apparent escape hatch for the oil sands because, he argued, of the energy security benefits they offered the United States. Since then, however, Harper has avoided an early defeat of his government, which does not control a majority of seats in the House of Commons, by shutting Parliament. Even if the Obama administration is willing to hold talks with Canada, Harper’s grip on power is now uncertain.
GREED AND PROFIT CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO OVER RULE SAFETY, THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, etc.,
Calgary and Edmonton are the two main and largest cities, both nearly the same size too, in the Province of Alberta, Canada. There are no other significantly large towns in this province as well. The main economy of Alberta is cattle farming and the oil industry. The provincial government has never been able to diversify the economy. Oil which was first discovered in Alberta in 1902 did not become a significant industry in the province until 1947 Alberta’s quickly found itself at the centre of the ensuing oil boom and grew when oil prices increased with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The population increased significantly in the years between 1971 and today. Mainly bcause of the governmental misleading spins that Alberta was a place to get rich fast, but this is not at all true. Few people got rich in Alberta, many went broke though. Alberta’s economy is so closely tied to the oil industry that the subsequent drop in oil prices were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry and consequently the overall Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton economy. This is still mainly a one horse economy, province. Do see also How many rich people in Calgary, Edmonton Alberta?
Producers say they are making efforts to address environmental concerns. Laut’s company, which recently completed a 110,000-barrel- a-day oil sands project, is developing systems to capture and store much of the carbon dioxide it emits. It has applied for government grants to test a system that will trap some of its carbon dioxide output by bubbling the exhaust gases from an upgrading plant through the spent water from a strip mine’s steam. Large-scale programs to capture and store carbon dioxide are not yet in place. The demonstration project of Canadian Natural Resources, for example, is not scheduled to begin until 2010.
With oil prices about $48 a barrel, profitability is fast eroding at oil sands projects and may already be vanishing at some operations. Producers have widely differing cost structures and varying definitions of profitability. But Andrew Leach, a professor of environmental economics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, estimates that long-established plants can operate with prices as low as $30 a barrel. He said, however, that newer operations needed $60 to $70 a barrel for acceptable returns and that no one would proceed with proposed projects until prices returned to the $80 to $90 range.
Exactly how Canada could participate in the shaping of a U.S. strategy for climate change is unclear. Harper, who is from Alberta, initially dismissed concerns about climate change. After taking power in 2006, he abandoned commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions made by the previous Liberal government when it signed the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Instead, Harper’s government has promised a 20 percent reduction in Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. What is more significant, however, is that the proposal wants to use as a baseline 2006 – a year with more pollution – rather than the Kyoto standard of 1990. In addition, the new plan requires companies, including oil sands operators, to reduce only the rate at which they emit greenhouse gases. If they achieve those efficiencies, they will still be allowed to raise their total emissions through increased production.
Even if Canadian producers dislike U.S. climate change policies, they will be hard-pressed to sell their oil elsewhere. Canada’s pipeline network takes oil sand production south and offers no routes to ports for export to other countries. “ The New York Times Media Group. http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/2936176
PS I have worked at Syncrude Fort MC Murray Plant myself. Extraction of the oil is basically a simple but a very costly process,
“Reuters, Thursday January 10 2008
AND THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE LOCAL GROUNDWATER HAS ALREADY BEEN POLLUTED BY THE OIL -WATER SETTLING DAMS AS WELL.