Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bombs & Bitumen - a Lethal Cocktail

There's a stretch of territory straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border where Canadian and allied fighter jocks go to play.  The strafe the place and they bomb it and even fire rockets into it.  It's called the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.

Guess what else they do at CLAWR?   When the air force boys aren't blasting the hell out of it, the fossil fuelers go in to mine bitumen.  It all works out great for everyone - right until it doesn't, until now.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has a bitumen spill or four on its hands inside the CLAWR.   Nobody really knows when the spill began but it's been at least three months since it was noticed.   Nobody knows the actual extent of the spill since a lot of it is sub-surface.  And, because it's uncappable, nobody knows how much leakage there'll be.

As for the extent of environmental damage or the progress being made we'll just have to rely on what the company is saying.  It's an active air weapons range after all.   That means journalists and unwelcome eyes are not allowed on site.


karen said...

Have you read "Stupid to the Last Drop" by William Marsden, Mound? It starts with the insane idea (originating in the '50's) of nuking the oil out of the ground in Northern Alberta. When I heard about this leak, I wondered if the idea was about to come around again.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Karen. I can't recall if I have read it but the title sounds very familiar. Are you referring to the American plan, endorsed by Ottawa, to use an underground nuclear explosion to liquify Athabasca bitumen? That I've read a fair bit about. It almost came to reality until the Americans discovered a big conventional oil field in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. That was our first lesson in the dodgy economic realities of unconventional bitumen-based oil. It's a lesson we forgot and may regret forgetting.

Anyong said...

How about this one.....Crews are on the scene of a small oil leak from a pipeline in central Alberta, the latest in a string the province has faced over the past year.

The spill was spotted Wednesday afternoon near Thorsby, Alta., about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, by a worker mowing the lawn along the leased site, the company said.

It is still going on.