Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Athabasca's Cancer Ponds

The Athabasca Tar Sands tailing ponds are said to be so huge they're visible to the naked eye from space.   As the Harper government steamrollers over obstacles in the way of massive Tar Sands expansion and new pipelines to transport bitumen to overseas markets, those tailing ponds will be getting ever more numerous, ever larger.   A new report from the University of Toronto reveals those tailing ponds are already releasing high levels of carcinogenic vapours into the air.

The emission levels of some toxic air pollutants in the Alberta oilsands have been greatly underestimated, according to University of Toronto researchers.

“When dealing with chemicals that have such great potential to harm people and animals, it is absolutely vital that we truly understand how, and how much they are being released into the environment,” Abha Parajulee, lead author of a paper on oilsands pollution, said in a news release. 

The U of T study used a model to predict emission levels of a group of atmospheric pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which can be highly carcinogenic

“Tailing ponds are not the end of the journey for the pollutants they contain. PAHs are highly volatile, meaning they escape into the air much more than many people think,” Parajulee said. 

The model also factored in additional PAHs released during the transport and storage of other waste materials from oilsands operations. 

The researchers said the higher levels of PAHs predicted by the model are consistent with levels measured in samples taken from areas near and in the Athabasca oilsands region.

Athabasca bitumen producers, faced with enormous costs to remediate the existing tailing ponds, have been floating a proposal to simply leave the ponds intact in the hope that, within a century, they'll miraculously cleanse themselves and give Alberta the gift of free wetlands.    Yeah, that sounds like a plan.


the salamander said...

.. these ethical oozy, toxic zones of destruction, pollution and poison, deserve to be properly named..

I've long felt that greedy, blind advocates, dim defenders, petty pimps, pricks, dicks, political animals, profiteers, brokers, liars, pro-pundits, carpet baggers, MP's, obstructors, spokespersons, consultants, pollsters, premiers, Ministers.. deserve recognition re these zones !

Thus individual tailings ponds & what seeps, leaks, is carried on the winds, floods, snows, blows, drains or oozes from them could memorialize, & be part of a FOREVER Legacy, for say.. Joe Oliver, Tom Flanagan, Jim Flaherty, Christy Clark, Rob Anders, Gerstein, Wright, Tony Clement, Alison Redford, John Baird, Kent, Poilievre, Arthur Hamilton, Novak, Jenni Byrne et al..

AND .. (the fact of the matter, clearly) the vast overarching archipelago of the tar sands surely must be named for its chief economic lizard, scientific weasel & evangelical paramount wizard, the mealymouth manager of Canadian Values -and the life hereafter .. Stephen Harper

Thus.. in the Great Pure White Frothy Albertan hinderland.. home of these sludge bird sanctuaries, dark caribou drink n die ponds, green sheen trout fishing reservoirs, dead wolf disposal sloughs & downward draining toxin escape streams.. We behold in the name (sponsorship) of China especially .. (or Israel) & in the NAME Of His Mostly Malevolent Excellency of Oversight.. BlindSight.. and the Arctic Polarama Piglet Poobah King

... The Steven. J. Harper ...

Yes !! In honor of his especial insightful economic harmony
& his gift to The First Nations.. anyone downstream or downwind..
(which covers most everything except BC)

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Sal. If they could relocate these tailing ponds a few hundred miles south to the Calgary city limits, how long do you think the bitumen pits would remain in business? Harper and Redford don't seem to mind when it's just a gaggle of Fort Mac yokels and natives in the line of fire.