STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Posts Tagged ‘syncrude’

Greenpeace Activists Arrested

Posted by mhudema on July 25, 2008

Greenpeace activists arrested near Fort McMurray

Greenpeace posted this picture on their website Thursday afternoon of a banner they put up near a tailings pond which read Greenpeace posted this picture on their website Thursday afternoon of a banner they put up near a tailings pond which read ‘World’s Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands.’
Another photo posted on the Greenpeace website Thursday afternoon.Another photo posted on the Greenpeace website Thursday afternoon.

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Updated: Thu. Jul. 24 2008 8:09 PM ET

Eleven Greenpeace activists were arrested at the Syncrude Aurora Oilsands site for trespassing onto the property Thursday afternoon.

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Greenpeace Blocks Syncrude Toxic Lake

Posted by mhudema on July 24, 2008

News Release:

Greenpeace activists obstruct Syncrude tar sands operation

24 July 2008 (Fort McMurray) — Braving toxic fumes and the same toxic tailings waste that earlier this year killed 500 ducks, Greenpeace activists entered Syncrude’s Aurora North tar sands operation and blocked a pipe into the two-kilometre wide tailings pond.

Shortly after 11:00 a.m today, 11 Greenpeace activists blocked the pipe to prevent further toxic contamination of Alberta’s environment. The activists capped the opening of the pipe, locking a large device in place while several other activists erected a triangular banner over another pipe depicting a skull and crossbones which hung above the pipe’s opening, giving the illusion of toxic water gushing from the “mouth” of the skull. Several other activists deployed a massive banner along the bank of the tailings pond, reading “World’s Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands.”

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Duck Invesitgation Nothing to Quack About

Posted by mhudema on July 11, 2008

Completed duck investigation nothing to quack about

Alberta Environment’s investigation into the deaths of 500 ducks at a Syncrude tailings pond last April was completed last week. However, it failed to address the government’s role and potential fines will have little impact, say environmental advocacy groups.

Mike Hudema, tar sands campaigner for Greenpeace Alberta, questions how the investigation avoided issues such as how often the government conducts inspections, whether or not there are enough investigators and why a tipster reported the incident rather than Syncrude. “I would say the investigation is not complete until the government’s role is looked at,” he says, adding the government should also make public all the evidence and information collected.

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Birds should move to Quebec –

Posted by mhudema on July 8, 2008

Birds should move to Quebec

Up the creek
Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic Committee has created a new event called dodge the pathogenic disease. The popular waterfront area, False Creek, which starts on the eastern end of English Bay draws visitors and locals alike. The public promenade and shops on Granville Island are definite draws but it’s probably the marina and public moorings that are the most popular. Recreational boaters, rowers, kayakers and dragon boaters flock to the area.

Apparently False Creek has a fecal count of 2,900 per 100 millilitres of water – normally beaches are closed when it hits 200 per 100 millilitres. But since Vancouver’s Public Health says “False Creek is not classified as a Primary Contact Recreational Water Body (i.e. it is not a swimming/bathing beach)” the agency is just advising people to stay out of the water.

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Duck Probe Moves to More Secrecy

Posted by mhudema on July 8, 2008

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Dead Duck Decision Expected Soon

Posted by mhudema on July 7, 2008

500 dead ducks could cost Syncrude $1M if Alberta goes ahead with charges

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has wrapped up an investigation into how 500 ducks died in the toxic sludge of an oilsands tailings pond last spring.

“The probe is complete. We’ve compiled all the evidence,” Alberta Environment spokesman Josh Stewart told The Canadian Press on Friday. “Right now we’re going through it to evaluate whether or not we’ll be passing charges along to Alberta Justice.”

The decision on charges against the company that operates the pond, Syncrude Canada Ltd., is expected to be made by the end of August, said Stewart.

“The maximum penalty for this under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act is a $1-million fine,” he said.

Syncrude spokesman Bob Nyen was guarded in his reaction to the investigation being complete.

“All I can say is we’ll continue to co-operate with the government investigation,” he said. “We haven’t seen anything yet.”

NDP environment critic Rachel Notley said that even a $1-million fine would be paltry compared to the billions of dollars in profits that major oil companies are taking from the oilsands.

“We need to recraft our environmental legislation so that there is a true cost to not abiding by the rules,” said Notley. “We need to have more inspectors and much more significant penalties.”

Most of the ducks and other waterfowl that landed on the tailings pond at the end of April died within a few days, including the handful of birds that were rescued and brought to cleaning stations.

Company officials explained that noisemakers used to scare off birds had not yet been deployed because of a spring snowstorm. Syncrude later bought full-page newspaper ads to issue a public apology.

But the dead ducks were a major blow to Alberta’s efforts to defend its environmental record against growing international criticism, including suggestions by some in the United States that the oilsands are a “dirty” source of energy.

Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said pictures of the dead and dying ducks were circulated around the world through the media and on the Internet.

“It was really the first time that some of these images got out to the rest of the world,” he said. “This incident is really the tip of the tarsands iceberg.”

People across Canada were shaken by the dead ducks and voiced their concerns on talk shows and in letters to newspapers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the deaths as preventable and conceded that Canada’s reputation had been harmed.

Hudema said new information began surfacing days later on other environmental problems in the oilsands region of northern Alberta.

“We’ve now heard that there are over a dozen open investigations into the tarsands,” he said. “We’ve heard about illegal water discharges into the Athabasca River.”

The story that the world is starting to hear is that the Alberta government doesn’t have a good handle on the situation, said Hudema.

“The devastation is really beyond what anybody imagined.”

Liberal environment critic David Swann said the dead ducks have resulted in international pressure on the Alberta government to clean up the oilsands, starting with giant toxic tailings ponds.

“This is threatening the very industry that they seem to be bent on protecting,” Swann said in an interview. “We’ve had 35 years of unrestricted development without any conditions really, and no oversight in the monitoring of the actual sites.”

The province requires oilsands operators to take measures to prevent birds from landing on tailings ponds, including scarecrows and noisemaking devices that sound like shotguns.

The Syncrude spokesman says the company is being vigilant to prevent any future waterfowl deaths.

“We’ve deployed all our noise cannons and the scarecrows on all our ponds and we continue to patrol them,” said Nyen. “And the operators that are working in those areas are constantly reminded to report any wildlife in the area.”

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Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

Suncor Energy Inc. and other oil companies have their work cut out for them in promoting an eco-friendly image of Alberta’s tar sands.

Environmental groups are cranking up their efforts to counter the public relations campaign launched recently by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

This week, Greenpeace Canada set up a spoof website,, which includes a satiric travelogue encouraging visitors to surf on water diverted from the province’s rivers to the oil sands, parasail on “the unique coal-bed methane and sour gas updrafts,” and fish in the polluted tailing ponds.

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Big Oil talks Carbon Tax

Posted by mhudema on June 26, 2008

OK, Alberta oil producers, start thinking carbon taxes

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

You might have recently seen newspaper advertisements for Suncor Energy, the oil-sands producer, touting its record in fighting greenhouse-gas emissions.

Suncor, relatively speaking, has been one of the most environmentally conscious oil companies. Rick George, the company’s president and CEO, has spoken often about environmental challenges.

Suncor’s ads, and its recently released progress report on climate change, show it has decreased the intensity of its energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse-gas emissions while investing in several renewable energy projects.

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Alberta Fish Deaths

Posted by mhudema on June 26, 2008

Alberta investigates fish deaths

Source: CBC News

Posted: 06/25/08 6:23PM

Filed Under: Canada

Hundreds of dead and dying fish have been found in a reservoir north of Fort McMurray on a site owned by Syncrude Canada, a discovery which has prompted an investigation by the Alberta government.

The fish were found Friday in the Poplar Creek reservoir built to divert water around an inactive oilsands mine.

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Dirty Oil to Receive PR Makeover

Posted by mhudema on June 24, 2008

Oil sands tries image makeover

Already under the microscope for greenhouse gas emissions, oil sands companies suffered a major public relations setback when images of ducks soaked in tailing pond oil emerged. Now, they’re striking back with a campaign to show how they can produce oil and manage the environmental impact

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Canada’s oil sands producers are tired of their image as environmental bad boys and are fighting back. As their critics get more vocal, the companies have decided to band together to get out the message that they are committed to reducing the environmental damage that results from oil sands development.

In an interview Monday, Imperial Oil Ltd. chief executive officer Bruce March said the oil companies are making major investments in new technology that will dramatically reduce the oil sands’ impact on water, land and air.

Mr. March spoke in the interview as part of the industry’s kickoff of an aggressive communications campaign that includes a new website and a series of national advertisements that, the industry says, are designed to engage Canadians in a dialogue about the controversial projects.

The Imperial Oil CEO said the development of the oil sands is a national project, similar in scope to the building of the railway in the 19th century.

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