STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Posts Tagged ‘toxic’

Oil Pressure: the fight to stop the tar sands

Posted by mhudema on November 9, 2008

Oil pressure

What happens in Northern Alberta is no longer a provincial issue.
Now the world is watching — the oilsands have gone global

You either loved it or hated it last week when Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, compared Alberta’s oilsands mines to the bleak, desolate landscape of Mordor ruled by the Dark Lord in the fictional trilogy Lord of the Rings.


Greenpeace activists suspended a massive protest banner at a Syncrude tailings pond north of Fort McMurray in July. Read the rest of this entry »

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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

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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Another Spill at Suncor

Posted by mhudema on July 17, 2008

Suncor pipeline spill results in shutdown

Today staff
Thursday July 17, 2008

It’s estimated that up to 1,260 barrels of diesel fuel was spilled as a result of a leak from a Suncor Energy pipeline Tuesday morning about 40 kilometres north of Lac La Biche.
“It’s a very considerable size spill,” said Darin Barter, Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) spokesman this morning. He added the pipeline was shutdown immediately after the leak was first noticed by staff at Suncor’s Pipeline Control Centre in Sherwood Park.
The pipeline, which remains out of operation, carries product from Fort McMurray to Edmonton. It is one of the company’s original pipelines, installed about 40 years ago.
“The positive thing that out of what is a bad situation is that it’s all on dry land,” he said. “There are no water bodies that have been affected, and there’s been no evacuations.
“The ability to clean in that area is very good.”
The ERCB is monitoring clean-up operations at the site of the leak. All other appropriate authorities and agencies have been notified.
As is normal practice, the ERCB, the oilsands primary regulator, will conduct an investigation into the incident.


Initially, the clean-up involves the use of vacuum trucks, which were on site Wednesday. Barter acknowledged there is going to be some soil contamination in the top levels. He predicted that soil will likely have to be removed to a certain depth, and taken to a waste management facility for proper disposal.
Barter noted Suncor will not be able to resume operating the pipeline “until they can prove to us that it’s safe to operate.”
At this time, Suncor has said production from its oilsands facility is not affected.
The ERCB reported no injuries as a result of the leak, and there is no danger to the public from the release.
Suncor staff first noticed the leak at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The ERCB was subsequently notified at approximately 4 p.m. that day.
That notification delay will form part of the investigation.
“Notification to us is very important,” said Barter. “The ability for a company to identify, take immediate steps and notify the ERCB is very important to us. That gets action happening. We can contact other government agencies, emergency services if the company hasn’t already done so. So that notification to us is absolutely paramount.”
Shawn Davis, Suncor spokeswoman, noted the time delay was due to the fact Suncor staff had to travel to the leak area to confirm the spill.
According to the ERCB, the pipeline failure rate in Alberta was at a record low 2.1 failures per 1,000 km of pipeline in 2007, down more than 30 per cent from 2000 when there were 3.3 per 1,000 km.
There are 392,000 km of ERCB-regulated pipeline in Alberta.
In 2007, the ERCB conducted 1,647 pipeline inspections.

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Our Health Is Not For Sale

Posted by mhudema on July 16, 2008

Chevron Offers Richmond’s City Council $61 Million to Approve Refinery Expansion
Richmond Residents and Bay Area Community say, “Our Health is Not for Sale”

Richmond, CA—Over 500 Bay Area residents attended a Richmond City Council public hearing last night on Chevron’s bid to expand the Richmond refinery to process dirtier crude oil.  The plant expansion is seen as a dramatic step in the wrong direction in the effort to decrease pollution-related health risks and climate change in Richmond and the Bay Area.  The City Council is expected to issue a final vote today in what has been a 4-year permitting process.    
In a last minute effort to lock-in City Council approval for Chevron’s refinery expansion, yesterday Chevron presented the City of Richmond with a $61 million dollar ‘Community Benefit Agreement’ (CBA).  The Agreement, submitted to the city council in closed session immediately before the public council hearing, would reportedly include $6.75 million for jobs and education programs, $6 million for community health programs, and requires the City Council’s approval of the expansion project. Other elements of Chevron’s proposal include requiring the City to propose the implementation of standards that would exempt Chevron projects from design review and would result in changes to the City’s land-use process for Chevron projects.
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The New Boom: 60 Minutes Australia

Posted by mhudema on July 16, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008
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Reporter: Liam Bartlett

Producers: Nick Greenaway and Glenda Gaitz

We don’t have to tell you about the world fuel crisis, we all feel the pain every time we drive into a service station.

But here’s something you may not know.

There is an answer and part of it’s right here in our own backyard.

We are talking about shale oil.

There are huge deposits here in Australia, just waiting to be exploited.

Then there are oil sands, which are already being mined on a massive scale in the wilds of Canada.

It’s an amazing sight, this new frontier.

With tales of untold riches and untapped oil, enough to last more than a hundred years. But, as Liam Bartlett discovered, there is a catch.

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Dene Water Worries

Posted by mhudema on July 15, 2008

Dene water worries
Brodie Thomas
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 14, 2008

TETLIT’ZHEH/FORT MCPHERSON – Concern over the future of waterresources took centre stage at the 38th annual Dene National Assemblyin Fort McPherson last week.

Before the meetings even got underway, Dene chiefs had met with Premier Floyd Roland on Monday afternoon in Inuvik.

‘There was a lot of discussion on waterthat comes from the border. We don’t yet have an agreement with othergovernments,’ said Sahtu Grand Chief Frank Andrew.

With at least three conferences onwater planned in the next six months, including a national waterconference to be held in Yellowknife this November, some chiefs werecalling for a public inquiry into how the Alberta tar sands operationsare using water from the Athabasca River.

‘We have to make this as big orbigger than the Berger inquiry. We drink water. We don’t drink oil,’said Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie.

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How to get oil from the Tar Sands

Posted by mhudema on July 12, 2008

Middle East oil running dry? Looking for a new source of energy? Environment editor John Vidal takes you step-by-step through how to extract oil from Canada’s tar sands, destroying habitat, polluting water and increasing carbon emissions as you go


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Awash in oil money, and problems

Posted by mhudema on July 11, 2008

Energy Hunt: Fort McMurray was a sleepy town on the Canadian frontier until oil transformed it into a boomtown with tons of opportunities – and concerns.

By CNN’s Ali Velshi and Katie Engelhart

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (CNN) — On a hot summer day, there’s a distinct smell around the remote, northern town of Fort McMurray, Canada. You might think it’s the oil being processed at nearby plants. But most residents will tell you it’s the smell of money.

Most Americans probably don’t know that one third of the world’s known oil deposits are buried in the dirt of Canada’s Alberta province. The Oil Sands of Canada – as they are known – contain the largest known oil deposit in the world, significantly larger than that of Saudi Arabia. One and a half million barrels of oil are extracted from the land every day, most of it sent directly to the U.S.

Alberta supplies about ten percent of America’s imported oil – some of it from conventional wells, but a growing amount from Oil Sands. And the fast-growing industry has turned the town of Ft. McMurray into a bonafide “boomtown” with folks here juggling new riches – and new problems.

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New Policy Step in Wrong Direction

Posted by mhudema on July 4, 2008

Issues – New ERCB directive on toxic tailings is a huge step in the wrong direction


The Alberta Government, along with their friends in the oil industry, have recently embarked on a major campaign to educate Canadians and Americans about the fact that extraction of oil from Northern Alberta’s bituminous sands is actually an environmentally friendly and ecologically sound process.
This is no easy task. Especially given that the science, statistics and pictures reflecting what is happening in Northern Alberta tend to speak for themselves. From Syncrude’s dead ducks to tailings leaks into the Athabasca River to aerial pictures of the area, the giant tailings lakes attached to these operations have, of late, become one of the most visible manifestations of all that is wrong with bituminous sands projects and a political hot potato for both government and industry in terms of their “education” campaigns.
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Put on the Brakes, Before we lose it all

Posted by mhudema on July 2, 2008

Greenpeace website takes aim at Alberta oilsands

by James Emery
Wednesday July 02, 2008

Greenpeace has launched a new web site that takes aim at Alberta’s oil sands development and says it can save tourists the trip of having to see the pollution and toxins it produces for themselves. was launched June 24 and is a tongue-in-cheek travel site that uses humour to try and communicate their message of how destructive they believe the oilsands development is to the environment.

Techniques include using photographs of people participating in various vacation activities such as waterskiing or sand castles being built by children — except tar is prevalent in the photos.

The site was launched “in reaction to the provincial government announcing a $25-million public relations campaign to try and tell the world that the environmental and social problems associated with the tar sands don’t exist,” said Mike Hudema, tar sands campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.
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