"In Canada's Alberta Province, Oil Sands Boom Is a Two-Edged Sword"

"FORT CHIPEWYAN, Canada -- In the Cree language, the word 'athabasca' means 'a place where grass is everywhere.' Here in Alberta, the Athabasca River slices through forests of spruce and birch before spilling into a vast freshwater delta and Lake Athabasca."

"But 100 miles upstream, the boreal forest has been peeled back by enormous strip mines, where massive shovels pick up 100 tons of earth at a time and dump it into yellow trucks as big as houses.

The tarry bitumen that is extracted is eventually shipped to refineries, many in the United States, to be processed into gasoline, diesel and other fuels. But the leftover polluted slurry remains in miles-long impoundments, some high above the banks of the river. Air cannons sound periodically to keep migratory birds from landing on the toxic ponds."

Neela Banerjee reports for the Los Angeles Times October 21, 2013.

Source: LA Times, 10/22/2013