STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Dirty Business: The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

Posted by mhudema on September 25, 2008

Dirty Business: The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

Dirty Business
The Tar Sands of Alberta and Toxic Waste

By Andrew Nikiforuk; September, 21 2008 – Znet
http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18878

Fred McDonald, a Métis trapper and storyteller extraordinaire, often questioned the reasoning and science behind the proliferation of toxic ponds and end-pit lakes. Before he died in 2007 of kidney failure, McDonald lived in Fort McKay, an Aboriginal community 72 kilometres north of Fort Saskatchewan. The stench of hydrocarbons from the surrounding mines often hangs heavily in the air there, and in 2006, an ammonia release from a Syncrude facility hospitalized more than 20 children.

On a fall day in 2006, McDonald sat in his kitchen, sipping a glass of rat root juice (“It’s good for everything,” he told me) and breathing through an oxygen tube. The day before, he had spent several hours on a dialysis machine. McDonald’s kidneys were failing but not his mind. He recalled the days when Tar Island was a good place to fish and hunt. (Tar Island was so named by local Cree and Métis after the bitumen that often oozed down its banks. In the late 1960s, Suncor transformed the island into a tailings pond, the first in the tar sands.) “It always had moose on it. We loved that island. We are slowly losing everything.”

McDonald was born on the river, and he had trapped, fished, farmed and worked for the oil companies. He fondly remembered the 1930 and 1940s, when Syrian fur traders exchanged pots and pans for muskrat and beaver furs along the Athabasca River. Families lived off the land then and had feasts of rabbit. They netted jackfish, pickerel and whitefish all winter long. “Everyone walked or paddled, and the people were healthy,” McDonald said. “No one travels that river anymore. There is nothing in that river. It’s polluted. Once you could dip your cup and have a nice cold drink from that river, and now you can’t.”

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Greenpeace Hangs Banner at Syncrude Toxic Lake

Posted by mhudema on July 25, 2008

July 25, 2008

Greenpeace posts banner at Syncrude tailings pond

By CAROL CHRISTIAN, SUN MEDIA

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FORT McMURRAY — Greenpeace activists were arrested after breaking into Syncrude Canada’s Aurora site yesterday to post banners at the tailings pond where an estimated 500 migratory birds died in April.

The protesters said they tried to block a pipe that flows into the tailings pond, about 75 km north of Fort McMurray or 525 kilometres north of Edmonton, but the attempt was cut short by security.

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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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Natural Resources Defense Council to Oil Companies: Stop Tar Sands Fuel

Posted by mhudema on June 17, 2008

Recently, 500 ducks mistook a lake of toxic tar sands waste in Alberta for one of the many pristine waters in Canada’s Boreal forests. Once coated with the oily residue, the ducks couldn’t fly away and they all died. Many had flown from the United States on their way to have their young in the Boreal. The deceptive waters of the enormous waste lagoons were likely too attractive for them on their long trek north. Tar sands oil is just as deceptive as a solution to our energy needs.

The death of 500 ducks was one more warning about harm caused by mining and drilling Canada’s Boreal forests for the tar sands oil that lies deep under the surface. Beneath the carpet of blue waters and green forests of the Province of Alberta, the tar sands are sand mixed with a sticky substance called bitumen. This bitumen – after using lots of energy and water – can be turned into synthetic crude oil, and from there into fuel for our cars, trucks and airplanes.

In addition to the problems of torn up forests and toxic lagoons, the process for making the synthetic crude produces three times the greenhouse gases per barrel as conventional oil production.

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