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Archive for May, 2008

Toxic Water

Posted by mhudema on May 29, 2008

Warning sounded on toxic water
Liberal critic blasts ‘hollow reassurances’

A study showing more than five million litres of toxic tailings pond water are leaching daily out of a pond next to the Athabasca River demonstrates that the Alberta government has lost control over oilpatch pollution, says a biologist.


But according to Premier Ed Stelmach, oilsands opponents are scaremongering over what will likely turn out to be minor emissions, upstream from the Northern Alberta community of Fort Chipweyan – something he hopes a province-wide study of the ecological impacts of heavy industry will confirm.

He said the province will pursue action against Suncor, the oilsands giant, if the leaching has exceeded tolerable legal limits.

“During the election period, when we were in Fort McMurray, I had a member of the First Nations deliver a report to me. I didn’t see it personally but … I made a commitment to the gentleman that what we need here is a baseline study.”

That would be followed by impact studies to show how much that baseline has shifted over decades of development, said Stelmach.

Dr. Kevin Timoney provided the Suncor-commissioned report from November 2007 to the Alberta Liberals after receiving it at a public presentation for Fort Chip residents; in 2006, Timoney found elevated levels of heavy metals, arsenic, volatile organics and other cancer-causing agents in a study of the river’s water quality.
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PR pro advice costs Tories $35K

Posted by mhudema on May 26, 2008

Kelly Cryderman
Calgary Herald

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Alberta government has called in high-priced outside help to quell increasing public concern over the oil industry’s impact on the environment.

Peter Sandman, a prominent American communications expert who bills $650 an hour — and who often works for government, environmental groups and big industrial players, including oil and gas — gave Alberta Environment officials presentations over two days this month on how to better handle regular public meetings and controversies that flare up.

Total cost, including preparation and travel time: $35,000.

“I would hope that it’s not about sharpening their image but it’s more about being more responsive and more transparent,” said Sandman, who is known for advising corporate clients to be more forthright about their failures and weaknesses to engender public trust.

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Tip of Tar Sands Iceberg – Probes grow to 13 in tar sands

Posted by mhudema on May 26, 2008

Oilsand probes grow to 13
Jason Fekete
Calgary Herald

The Alberta government finds itself knee-deep in more than a dozen oilsands-related investigations — including leaks, regulatory breaches and potential health problems — sparking further questions about the ecological costs to tap the resource.

The investigations come as the Stelmach Tories have launched a $25-million, three-year “Branding Alberta” campaign partly aimed at selling the oilsands as environmentally sustainable.

But less than a month after about 500 ducks died on a toxic tailings pond north of Fort McMurray, the provincial government and the oilpatch are facing new questions about one million litres of wastewater contaminated with oil and grease that leaked into the Athabasca River last fall.

“There’s this growing confidence gap between the public and the government,” Liberal environment critic David Swann said Friday. “This has been a government that’s been hands-off.”

Alberta Health and Health Canada are investigating reports of unusually high cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan, an aboriginal community downstream of oilsands projects.

Alberta Environment itself has 13 open investigations related to the oilsands. Three of those involve toxic tailings ponds, of which two are investigations into poor air quality, with the other case being the dead ducks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Toxic Water Released into River

Posted by mhudema on May 23, 2008

Alberta government plays down oil sands leak

The Canadian Press

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is playing down a leak of nearly one million litres of tainted water into the Athabasca River from a wastewater pond at a Suncor oil sands site near Fort McMurray.

The Liberal opposition says the leak last year was the same volume as an Olympic swimming pool and involved water contaminated with oil and grease that left a sheen on the river.

Liberal environment critic David Swann said downstream communities were not notified for up to eight months after the September leak.

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Water ‘source of fear’ for native communities, report says

Posted by mhudema on May 22, 2008

Water ‘source of fear’ for native communities, report says

Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008

David Friday unloads bottled water at the airport on Kashechewan Reserve in northern Ontario.

Tyler Anderson/National PostDavid Friday unloads bottled water at the airport on Kashechewan Reserve in northern Ontario.

OTTAWA — Water quality in aboriginal communities and reserves across the country has reached a “boiling point,” warns a new report released Thursday by the Polaris Institute, the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Labour Congress.

“The deplorable conditions that First Nation people live in would not be accepted in any other part of the country,” the report states. The report was co-authored by Andrea Harden and Holly Levaillant from the Polaris Institute.

“For many, water has become a source of fear, and people have good reason to believe that what comes out of their taps may be making them sick. What is happening should be considered a violation of fundamental human rights in this country.”

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Shell ‘selling Suicide’ by preferring Tar Sands to wind

Posted by mhudema on May 22, 2008

Shell ‘selling suicide’ by preferring tar sands to wind

Shell was accused yesterday of “selling suicide on the forecourt” by pressing ahead with tar sands operations in Canada and continuing to flare off excess gas in Nigeria while pulling out of renewable schemes such as the London Array – the world’s largest offshore wind scheme.

The accusation that Shell was irresponsibly adding to climate change was made by an unnamed shareholder at its annual meeting in The Hague after Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer insisted the company was doing all it could to meet rising demands for energy while reducing CO2 emissions. Shell would listen to all stakeholders but he warned “ultimately it will not be possible to meet fully everyone’s expectations”.

Linda Cook, Shell’s executive director of gas and power, defended the decision to put its stake in the London Array up for sale. The economics did not meet the group’s “hurdles rate”, she said. In terms of unit costs it was “two and a half times cheaper to build onshore projects in the US” than to pursue the scheme off the Kent coast, she explained, insisting Shell remained committed to renewables.

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Farmers Say No to Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on May 22, 2008

They Can’t Just Walk All Over Us Farmers Resist a Pipeline

Posted on: Wednesday, 21 May 2008, 03:00 CDT

By Lydersen, Kari

Carlisle Kelly saved money from his Amtrak job for years to buy one of the last remaining wooded pieces of land in the expansive farm country of central Illinois. Because, as he tells it, “I’m crazy about the animals.” An avid hunter and outdoorsman, he wanted to preserve the ancient oaks on a rare hilly, neverfarmed area near LeRoy, Illinois, and restore farmland back into native foliage for wild turkeys and deer. So Kelly, fifty-four, was furious last winter when representatives of Enbridge Inc., one of Canada’s largest oil transport companies, told him they needed to survey his land to build a pipeline through it.

“To me, tearing those trees out to build a pipeline is like tearing my arms and fingers off,” he says. “It’s a miracle those trees are even there. I made a promise to protect them.”

Enbridge wants to build a 175-mile, $350 million pipeline through Illinois to connect its northern and southern networks so that thick, gooey Albertan tar sand oil can be transported swiftly to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

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Toxic Tour shows another aspect of Tar Sands Horror Show

Posted by mhudema on May 22, 2008

Environmental Groups Offer ‘Toxic Tour’ Of BP Refinery

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 10:23 AM CDT
As a spin-off of the Green Fest occurring this weekend in Chicago, environmental groups guided community members and media representatives around BP’s Whiting, Ind., oil refinery. The tour pointed to current sources of pollution, emphasizing that a planned expansion would boost the facility’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 5.8 million tons a year—the equivalent to adding 320,000 cars to the nation’s highways.

BP has proposed the expansion in order to refine low-grade crude from the environmentally devastating Canadian tar sands. Nearly 65 percent of the oil produced in the tar sands comes into the United States.

Complementing First Nations and international environmental opposition to development of the tar sands, local groups are opposing BP’s proposed expansion. The Calumet Project and the Global Community Monitor have appealed an air permit granted for BP’S proposed expansion, which would allow for increased sulfur dioxide, lead and particulate matter emissions.
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Exxon Stalled By Court – other project affected

Posted by mhudema on May 15, 2008

Imperial suffers Kearl defeat


From Thursday’s Globe and Mail

May 14, 2008 at 9:36 PM EDT

CALGARY — Multibillion-dollar oil sands projects will face new legal and regulatory hurdles after the Federal Court ruled against Imperial Oil Ltd. in its battle to keep the $8-billion Kearl oil sands mine on schedule.

Imperial went to court to win back a key permit for site preparation that was voided after a Federal Court found Kearl’s regulatory approval to be incomplete on the issue of greenhouse gases.

The loss will set back Kearl by at least several months, if not a year or more.

For the energy industry, the Federal Court decision means regulatory reviews are likely to become ever-more detailed and arduous, while legal challenges will become more common.

Alberta's oil sands Read the rest of this entry »

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Big oil soaks up $1.4B in tax breaks

Posted by mhudema on May 9, 2008 – Business – Big oil soaks up $1.4B in tax breaks

With companies reaping huge profits, it’s time to end corporate handouts, critics charge

May 08, 2008

Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA—Not only are Canadian motorists paying record high prices at the gasoline pumps, they are handing the big oil companies $1.4 billion a year in tax breaks.

Critics say with oil companies making huge profits the situation in Canada defies logic.

They say consumers might be able to stomach the corporate handout if the money was being used to protect the environment or clean up the mess left behind in the oil sands instead of going into the pockets of the likes of Petro Canada and Imperial Oil.

“They are completely unjustifiable . . . these companies do not need taxpayers’ help. They’re the ones who are doing the fleecing,” NDP Leader Jack Layton said.

“They are making world record profits and we’re giving them tax subsidies. It makes no sense and at the same time they are polluting the planet,” Layton said, pointing to this week’s discovery of hundreds of dead ducks in a toxic tailings pond belonging to Alberta oil sands giant Syncrude Canada Ltd.

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