Academics take issue with ‘flawed’ pipeline policies and leadership

Protesters in Vancouver rally against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

Protesters in Vancouver rally against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

Published: June 25, 2014

VANCOUVER — A Canadian-led group of academics has taken to one of the world’s top science journals to call for a moratorium on new oilsands and pipeline projects.

The group, led by ecologist Wendy Palen at Simon Fraser University, says Canada and the U.S. should halt approvals until oilsands developments are “consistent” with the government’s own commitments to cut carbon pollution.

“Anything less demonstrates flawed policies and failed leadership,” they write in Thursday’s issue of the British journal Nature. Continue reading

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Mercury levels rising in expanse around Alberta oilsands

Environment Canada research scientist Jane Kirk collects snow samples near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The snow may look pristine but it can contain traces of toxins. PHOTO: RODNEY MCINNIS/ENVIRONMENT CANADA

Environment Canada research scientist Jane Kirk collects snow samples near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The snow may look pristine but it can contain traces of toxins.
PHOTO: RODNEY MCINNIS/ENVIRONMENT CANADA

Published December 29, 2013

Mercury wafting out of oilsands operations is impacting an area – or “bull’s-eye” — that extends for about 19,000 square kilometres in northeast Alberta, according to federal scientists.

Levels of the potent neurotoxin found near the massive industrial operation have been found to be up to 16 times higher than “background” levels for the region, says Environment Canada researcher Jane Kirk, who recently reported the findings at an international toxicology conference.

Mercury can bioaccumulate in living creatures and chronic exposure can cause brain damage. It is such a concern that Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq signed an international treaty in October pledging Canada to further reduce releases to the environment. Continue reading

Lake Toxins Tied to Oilsands

oilsands - smol

Alberta’s oilsands operations ~ Queen’s/Environment Canada photo

Story published Jan 8, 2013, A1 Calgary Herald

Margaret Munro, Postmedia News; With Files From Dan Healing, Calgary Herald.

Leading federal and academic scientists have uncovered “compelling” evidence that Alberta’s oilsands operations have been sending toxins into the atmosphere for decades.

The team has found “striking” increases in contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at the bottom of six lakes up to 90 kilometres from the massive oilsands operations in northeastern Alberta.

“Industry’s role as a decades-long contributor of PAHs to oilsands lake ecosystems is now clearly evident,” the team reports in a study published Monday in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

Federal scientists uncover evidence that oilsands contaminants travel further than expected

Published November 13, 2012

Federal scientists report polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are building up in lake sediments up to 100 kilometres from the oilsands operations. PHOTO: POSTMEDIA NEWS FILES

By Margaret Munro

Postmedia News

UNDATED – Federal scientists have uncovered evidence that contaminants wafting out Alberta’s oilsands operations are collecting on the bottom of remote lakes up to 100 kilometres away.

The chemical “legacy” in the lake sediments indicates that oilsands pollution is travelling further than expected and has been for decades.

“The footprint of the deposition is potentially larger than we might have anticipated,” says Derek Muir, a senior Environment Canada scientist, who will present the findings Wednesday at an international toxicology conference in the U.S. where the oilsands are a hot topic. Continue reading