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Alberta Tar Sands - Alex Abu-Hakima/Brent Weyers/Brett Barney
Transcript of Alberta Tar Sands - Alex Abu-Hakima/Brent Weyers/Brett Barney
Like anywhere in the world, where there are people, there are impacts on ecosystems and wildlife. This is no different in the oil sands region, where significant industrial development coexists with a thriving ecosystem, bringing with it habitat changes that are major challenges to manage.
What Are the Tar Sands? How are they Extracted?
Friday, January, 2012
Vol XIII, No. 21
The Alberta Times
Tar Sands as an Emerging Oil Practice
Alberta and It's Economic Promise
Tar Sands are a combination of:
Clay, Water, Sand, and Bitumen
Extracting the Oil Rich Bitumen is the Goal
is a a heavy black, thick, and very viscous oil. It needs to be diluted by lighter hydrocarbons in order to transport through pipes.
Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen... which is then refined into oil.
Bitumen must be extracted from surface mining, then needs separation from sand and clay constituents, and then additional refinement is required.
- What's Behind The Oil Canada Supply? -
Alberta Has Potential!
Out of the world's oil supply, 2 trillion barrels of oil exist in the form of tar sands.
Tar sands are found in many places worldwide with the largest deposits found in Canada (Alberta) and Venezuela. Some large deposits are also found in various Middle East countries.
Some commercial oil is produced by the tar sands in Venezuela, however the vast majority is produced in Canada. Only Canada has a large-scale commercial tar sands industry.
Tar sands currently represent about 40% of Canada's oil production, and output is expanding rapidly.
The Canadian Economy and GDP
-- Heavily Dependent on the Tar Sands Industry--
Alberta's anticipated oil supply is about equal to
170 billion barrels. This oil source is valued by the
workers, the providence, the whole country, and
the entire world.
The Alberta oil sands industry
currently employs 112,000
people across Canada and outside the province of Alberta. Over the next 25 years, under current production prospects, employment is expected to rise to over 500,000 over the next 25 years.
According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), Alberta will provide$122 billion in provincial and municipal tax revenue and $350 billion in royalties from the oil sands industry over the next 25 years.
Every dollar invested in the Alberta's oils sands creates about $8.00 worth of economic activity. 1/3 of this activity occurs outside Alberta's borders – in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
Capital investment for Canadian oil is estimated to add up to $207 billion over the 2013-2022 period.
Because the oil sands industry represents such a substantial portion of the Canadian economy all Canadians benefit from the industry in the sense of employment opportunities as well as generating royalties and taxes that help pay for government services and programs.
In retrospect, strictly regulating such an industry can have a huge impact on the economic stability of Canada as well as international relations.
Alberta in Retrospect to the World
Alberta’s oil sands produce 1.9 million barrels per day and the majority is exported.
In 2011, 1.3 million barrels of oil were exported each day to the U.S., accounting for 7% of the total U.S. energy needs.
As a whole, the Alberta oil source represents 11% of the total globally available oil, being an essential energy resource to the world.
The Alberta Economy
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Vol XXIII, No. 11
The Alberta Times
Tar Sands Impact Environment and Bio-Social Realm
The Tar Sand Industry Has Devastating Consequences on the Environment
Now That You Know the Truth, Come Visit Alberta
We encourage you to visit the pristine, province of Alberta. Its beauty, wildlife, and habitats will allow you reconnect with nature. We cordially invite you to enjoy the outdoors and their majesty that is and will forever be respected and protected by Canada.
The process of developing oil sand sites involves clearing trees, wiping out brush, and removing multiple layers of topsoil. This action removes habitats for all species in the area. As a result, organisms experience a reduction in fundamental niches (regions where they can live and reproduce).
The carbon emissions per barrel oil continues to decrease as industrial extraction, separation of tar sand, and refinement improves and becomes more efficient. However, because the tar sand industry keeps growing, the Alberta oil production sector continues to leave a bigger and bigger carbon footprint as the years progress.
In 2011, Tar Sands Accounted for:
23% of total Albertan Emissions
8% of Canada's total Emissions
55 Million Tons of Atmospheric Emissions released annually (2011)
Oil Sands Emissions are Increasing
Approximately half of America’s migratory birds nest in the Boreal forest.
A range of 22–170 million birds are dependent on these areas for breeding.
By current oil industry expansion, these areas will soon be rendered as "tar sands" sites, which puts all these birds at risk for extinction or endangerment.
Many birds and other wildlife have lost their habitats, migratory, and breeding sites by the development that already exists.
In April 2008, 1,600 ducks died when the migrating flock landed on a toxic tar sand tailing pond. The industry was fined $3 million dollars for the incident.
Tailings ponds are engineered dam and dyke systems to hold water, sand, clay and residual oil after oil sand processing.
These ponds are large and significantly impacting the landscape and migratory bird life.
Existing tailings ponds cover 176 km2 (67 mi2) and can be seen in outer space.
Water is toxic in these ponds to life since it has come into contact with oil during the extraction process and contains chemicals toxic to fish .
The small amount of residual oil that floats to the surface of the pond poses a risk to waterfowl.
These ponds are not sound in design, and leak toxic water. Approximately 11 million liters of contaminated water are leaked everyday.
Alberta Tar Sand Oil Concerns
Oil production from tar sands requires the release of three times more greenhouse gas emissions than production from a conventional oil source.
Alberta oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada. By 2020, it is expected that the oil sands will release twice the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced by all the cars and trucks in Canada.
Tar sands operations contaminate nearby lakes, streams, and ecosystems. Oil production risks major impacts to the Mackenzie River Basin and local water bodies. In some Airborne and waterborne pollution carries as far as up to 100 km from the tar sand sites.
Tar Sands Sending Cancer Downstream?
Family physician Dr. John O'Connor has reported a high concentration of rare cancers after a visit to Fort Chipewyan. Dr. O'Connor had been observing conditions such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other symptoms like skin disorders and auto-immune diseases. He suspects that pollution from the tar sands project could be increasing the risk of cancer for members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
Fort Chipewyan sits along the shore of Lake Athabasca, 120 km downstream from the Athabasca Oil Sands site. The mining site sits right on the Athabasca River, which feeds the lake. The First Nation has reported deformities in local fish, one of their precious sources of sustenance. This poses a serious food security crisis for the First Nation, as they live off of the land and the river.
The Alberta Cancer Board
began investigating Fort Chipewyan. Their findings revealed 51 cases of rare cancer, which was much higher than expected.
These were rare cancers which included bile duct cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, leukemia, and lymphoma.
According to Dr. Gina Solomon, an associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, other cancers included soft tissue sarcoma, which is extremely rare.
A team of scientists lead by Dr. David Schindler (
), professor of ecology from the University of Alberta, tested the water of Lake Athabasca for contaminants. They discovered dangerously high concentrations of 13 toxic heavy metals. The contaminants included arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium, and cadmium.
Dr. Schindler is convinced that the Athabasca Oil Sands Project is polluting the Athabasca River with these cancerous metals. He also believes that these substances travel downstream to Lake Athabasca and Fort Chipewyan, poisoning the fish, and then the people.
-The Alberta Oil Times-
Oil Sand Myths Debunked
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Vol. XXIII No. 12
In 2009, definitions were introduced to better track the level of land disturbance and reclamation progress
A Hectares is a piece of land that is 10,000 square meters. Roughly 2.471 acres.
Of the 84,349 to hectares of land affected by the oil sands mining operations, 104 have reached the status of "certified reclaimed.
Only 76,337 hectares are considered "cleared" or "disturbed." These terms mean the land is cleared for operation or in active operation.
As with any oil production, monitoring environmental impacts are necessary. The Alberta Government and the Oil Industry are committed to mitigating or avoiding these impacts.
Oil sands production recycles 80 to 95 percent of the water that is used!
The Athabasca River has always had measurable levels of naturally occurring contamination. Close monitoring has shown no increased harm.
Chipewyan Peoples’ Plight Highlights ‘Molecular Relations’ with Capitalism and Industry
The Cree and Dene people of Fort Chipewyan are suffering from rare cancers, and a compromised food supply as a result from chemical runoffs from the Athabasca Oil Sands. Though the land legally belongs to the British Crown, a treaty signed by the British Colonists and the indigenous people at the end of the 19th century granted them the right to hunt, fish, and live off the land indefinitely. Now these rights are being infringed upon, and the livelihood of the native people is in jeopardy.
Anthropologist Michelle Murphy claims that this complex crisis resembles a “political economy” with historical dispossession of native land, and capitalist motivation. The tar sands are extremely beneficial to the Canadian economy, and as their production of oil continues, it reveals that financial incentives take precedence over protecting ecosystems and the health of human populations.
Murphy strongly believes the byproducts of the tar sands are causing cancer in Fort Chipewyan. With the spotlight on their struggle, a once inconceivable consequence has gained perceptibility, and arguably legibility, with the outcry from the First Nation, water testing, and cancer reporting. On a molecular level, the health of the First Nation is being affected the industrial mining and refining of tar sands, which was pursued based on the capitalist dependency on oil. These arenas, though vastly different and separate, are now connected through what Murphy calls “molecular relations”.
What this tragedy is highlighting is a new “chemical regime” taking place in modern times. The duality of political and economic interests create industrial practices that reap capital, but now have been revealed to release synthetic chemicals that can harm in ways known and unknown. The repercussions of synthetic chemical exposure remain hidden until a victim, NGO, or scientist discovers them. Every revealed chemical contaminant from an industrial activity will reiterate how we are all connected as organisms in the planet’s biological network by molecular relations.
The Air Quality Health Index is one such tool.
The Index has indicated "low risk" 95 percent of the time
Oil sand productions emit certain greenhouse gases such as, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and hydrogen sulphide.
Images of deformed fish are screen shots of YouTube video:
URL List for Images