Dedicated to the Restoration of Progressive Democracy
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In Fairness to the Tar Sands
An independent team of researchers from The Royal Society of Canada reports that there's no credible evidence that Tar Sands contaminants are causing cancer in downstream communities. But the team went on to castigate Alberta and federal government authorities for being asleep at the wheel:
But when it comes to regulating the industry, governments have not kept up with its growth, especially Alberta's Environment and Resource Development ministries, the report says.
" These agencies need to seriously review whether they have and can effectively maintain the specialized technical expertise needed to regulate industrial development of this scope and sophistication," the summary says.
As well, Alberta's environmental review process is " seriously deficient" in assessing health and socio-economic impacts.
..." There has generally been inadequate overall risk assessment for technological and natural disasters, assessment of community health impacts, integrated and cumulative ecological impact assessment, and assessment of regional socio-economic impacts."
Water monitoring of the oilsands is of a lower standard than that used for forestry and the data from the program isn't made public.
" There are valid concerns about the structure of [the monitoring program] that need to be addressed regarding the appropriateness of the data collected, public access to data, independent scientific oversight and verification of results."
Not enough is known about groundwater movement in northern Alberta, says the summary, especially as the industry moves from open-pit to underground mining.
As well, the report says the province hasn't obtained enough financial guarantees to ensure oilsands mines get cleaned up — although the province has said it is negotiating with industry on the issue.
The report also scolds Ottawa for failing to enforce federal legislation over the oilsands.
" Despite many clear areas of valid federal interest, the profile of relevant federal agencies has been low."