STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Upgraders need too much water

Posted by mhudema on June 25, 2008

Upgraders need too much water
The Edmonton Journal

Re: “Upgrader Alley pause urged; Think-tank wants environmental rules set before new permits,” The Journal, June 16.

The biggest travesty relating to Upgrader Alley originates at the Gold Bar waste-water treatment plant in Edmonton. It is there that Epcor, the city-owned utility, plans to take 26 million litres of reclaimed water per day — an amount equal to the daily water consumption of the city of Edmonton. This water is presently returned to the river for use downstream. If the plan goes ahead, no water will be returned to the river by Epcor.

The water will be transported by an 80-kilometre pipeline owned by the Epcor/Sherritt partnership for the Dodds Roundhill coal gasification project plant near Beaverhill Lake. Epcor’s primary obligation to the partnership is to provide the water. Without the ability to get the water, the project would be dead.

Once it became a partner, Epcor became a promoter of the project and, as such, can no longer give objective advice either to the city — its sole shareholder — or the public. Epcor is in a conflict of interest.

Epcor received approval from the city to take the 26 million litres of treated water without an independent report. We wrote Epcor’s president and directors to tell them that. We also attended Epcor’s annual meeting.

In order for Epcor’s board of directors and the city to do their due diligence, they must get an independent report on both the feasibility and propriety of the project.

It is clearly speculative and has zero upside environmental possibilities. According to Epcor, most of the power generated will be used to meet site requirements. One must consider that 312 square kilometres of farmland will be strip-mined to get the coal, 300 property owners will be affected and/or displaced and the project will destroy Beaverhill Lake, an internationally acclaimed migratory bird centre that provides feeding and nesting habitat for more than 50,000 shore birds annually.

The project has been delayed. It is a good time for Edmontonians to write city council to urge that the project be abandoned.

J.O. Darwish, spokesman, Edmonton Friends of the North

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

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