Toxics Released by Canada's Oil Sands Operations Growing Rapidly

"Canada’s oil sands  mining operations produce vast and fast-growing quantities of deadly substances, including mercury, heavy metals and arsenic, new data released by Environment Canada shows.

The information on pollutants sheds new light on the environmental toll exacted by Canada’s bid to extract oil from bitumen, showing in stark relief how many nasty substances are being laid on the northern Alberta landscape in the process – and how quickly those are growing.

In the past four years, the volume of arsenic and lead produced and deposited in tailings ponds by the country’s bitumen mines – run by Syncrude Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC  – has increased by 26 per cent. Quantities of some other substances have increased at even faster rates.

The companies also released huge amounts of pollutants into the air last year, including 70,658 tonnes of volatile organic compounds, which can damage the function of human organs and nervous systems, and 111,661 tonnes of sulphur dioxide, a key contributor to acid rain."

Nathan VanderKlippe reports for the Toronto Globe and Mail August 9, 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010