STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Greenpeace Slams Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on July 25, 2008

Greenpeace stunt slams ‘tar sands’ tailing ponds
Posted: July 24, 2008, 5:18 PM by Shane Dingman

Greenpeace, always keen to jump on a corporation for its wanton (though, probably unintentional) small animal slaughter, has targetted oil sands producer Syncrude for its latest activist stunt.

What animal slaughter you ask?

500 ducks died in late April after landing on a tailings pond at Syncrude Canada’s Aurora mine north of Fort McMurray. The pond contains a toxic mix of byproducts generated after oil is washed out of the sand.Syncrude made a public apology shortly after the incident, saying it had not set up noisemakers to scare away migrating fowl at the pond because of late winter storms.

Greenpeace’s response? Put up some banners, and demand an end to worst practices of the “World’s Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands!”
On their site the Peacers trumpet that “Braving toxic fumes and the same toxic tailings waste that earlier this year killed 500 ducks …. activists deployed a massive banner on the bank of the tailings pond while two other activists erected a banner on the top of another pipe which depicted a large skull and crossbones banner. The skull hung just above the pipe’s opening, giving the illusion of toxic water gushing from the “mouth” of the skull.”

That detail was left out of the Reuters story, in which Syncrude — a joint venture owned by Canadian Oil Sands Trust, Imperial Oil Ltd, Petro-Canada , ConocoPhillips, Nexen Inc., Nippon Oil Corp. unit Mocal Energy Ltd. and Murphy Oil Corp. — could not immediately reached for comment.

The story does contrast the Green demands with the economic costs of adopting them:

The environmental group is calling for the Alberta government to stop approving new projects to exploit the region’s oil sands, which hold the biggest petroleum reserves outside the Middle East.

Oil companies are expected to spend more than $100-billion to nearly triple production from the region — to more than 3 million barrels day — by 2015.

FP has written before about the crucial economic role the oil sands are playing for Alberta, and for much of Canada, but the environmental issues do muddy the good news economy story. “We have not, we are not, and we will not put our environment at risk for money,” Alberta Energy Minister Mel Knight said in defence of the record of oil sands development.

Industry has also launched a web site to show that it cares about the environment, you can see it here. Amusingly, the home page carries a quote by Marcel Coutu, Syncrude’s chairman, that admonishes:

“If you ask people for their views, you better be prepared to listen. I expect some tough criticisms of our industry, but we need to hear them directly from the public. If a criticism is unfair, we need to explain why. If it is fair, we need to act.”

Now the only question is, do 11 Greenpeace activists comprise “the public.”

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