CONTRIBUTION · 8th March 2010
Last Tuesday I attended a very entertaining forum in Kitimat that was billed as a career/job forum held for high school children. I was very suspicious that it might be supported by Enbridge, having heard that Enbridge representatives were in Kitimat at the time. This does not in itself indicate collusion, but given the credentials of the panel I can't imagine a forum geared towards high school kids would attract the 'big' guys en masse. A list of speaker’s included representatives of the who's who in the shipping world. People such as Kevin Obermeyer, Pres. and CEO Pacific Pacific Pilotage Auth.; Fred Denning, Pres. BC Coast Pilots Ltd.; John Armstrong, VP Marine Operations Seaspan Int. Ltd.; Aaron Dumler, Smit Marine Can. Ltd.; Stephen Brown, Pres. Chamber of Shipping.
The scary part for me was the huge increase in oil tanker shipments, around the world, over the past couple of decades and it is only going to multiply if left unchecked. Nowhere was the panel able to guarantee that a spill would not happen in our Coastal waters.
I have many reasons why I am adamantly opposed to Enbridges' pipeline and the extraction of increasing amounts of bitumen in the tar sands including:
- The complete destruction of vast amounts of Alberta and soon Saskatchewan
- The pollutants (tailing ponds) that will be left in perpetuity killing our wildlife, destroying our rivers and, via cancer, killing our populations.
- The fact that Canada is fast becoming the biggest culprit in aiding and abetting in the destruction of the earth's atmosphere.
- The pipelines that scar our lands, becoming more and more in number are increasing the probability of a disaster. These pipelines will age and in 30 or 50 years how can we ensure the maintenance of these lines will be kept up?
- Guarantees from the oil industry and their business partners today mean nothing to future generations when promises and contracts are easily broken. This we have learned from Exxon's disaster on the Alaska coast and with how our governments have conducted business in the past.
- The net benefit to our area, in comparison to the permanent threat that we would have to live with, is a huge zero.
At present my brother is an engineer on one of the biggest mines in the Yukon, the Faro Mine that was abandoned due to the company going bankrupt. He advised me that the clean-up on that mine could take 150 years - paid for by the Federal Government - by us! Who is to say that we won't be left holding the bag like when Exxon refused compensation to the people whose lives were destroyed by the Valdez spill?
All this is so companies can show gargantuan profits and stuff the pockets of their shareholders.
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 11th March 2010
Thank you Ed, for directing me to the Suncor site. I found it encouraging that Suncor is making an effort to deal with tailings ponds and to find solutions to reclaiming the land.
I was disappointed, however, that there was no mention of how they planned to deal with the chemicals found in the ponds. There was a lovely video on finding a way to bind sand particles so they could be re-introduced into the environment but they made no mention of the following contaminants found in the byproduct of bitumen extraction.
• Naphthenic Acids: Naphthenic acids can be found in tailings ponds at levels over
a hundred times those found in nearby rivers.11 In addition to being acutely toxic,
the naphthenic acids associated with the tar sands ponds do not easily break down
in the natural environment.12 The combination of toxicity and slow breakdown rates
means water contaminated with naphthenic acids poses a threat to the environment
• PAHs: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known to be carcinogenic
and mutagenic. PAHs are relatively non-soluble, and are therefore known to settle
in sediment and to degrade slowly. Exposure of aquatic organisms to PAHs is
associated with liver tumours and Environment Canada has concluded that certain
PAHs pose a threat to human life or health.14
• Other Contaminants15 : Trace metals such as copper, zinc and iron can exist at
concentrations that exceed the Canadian water quality guideline for freshwater
aquatic life. Tailings have also been found to contain residual bitumen – for example,
Suncor’s tailings pond contained 9% residual bitumen and diluent.
If it was strictly sand Suncor had to deal with there wouldn't be hundreds of birds dying when they landed on these ponds. There wouldn't be major increased incidents of cancer in communities nearby. There wouldn't be gross deformity in fish in rivers and lakes where the ponds have leaked billions of litres of contaminated water.
I for, for one, would not be building my home on these reclaimed lands.
reclamation of tailing ponds in Alberta's tarsands operation
Comment by Ed Seal on 11th March 2010
I seen some reclaimed tailings pond on the Suncor webpage I think they look pretty good check it out if you'd like.