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Environment Canada confirms oil sands contaminants

Senior Environment Canada scientists say they’ve confirmed that contaminants in Alberta’s oil sands are collecting on the bottom of remote lakes up to 100 kilometres away.


Senior Environment Canada scientists say they’ve confirmed that contaminants in Alberta’s oil sands are collecting on the bottom of remote lakes up to 100 kilometres away.

Senior Environment Canada scientist, Derek Muir, presented his findings on November 14, 2012 at an international toxicology conference in California. He demonstrated that pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are building up in lake sediments up to 100 kilometres from the oil sands operations, much further than other researchers previously thought.

Environment Canada’s findings confirm the 2010 research by University of Alberta aquatic scientist David Schindler, who was heavily criticized at the time by the oil sands industry for saying airborne heavy metals and other pollutants from oil sands operations were contaminating the landscape up to 50 kilometres away.

In the latest round of research, Environment Canada scientist Jane Kirk tested for heavy metals and other contaminants in snow at 90 sites located up to 200 kilometres from the oil sands plants. She reports that the aerial loadings of 13 priority pollutants were 1.5 to 13 times higher at sites within 50 kilometres of the upgraders and highest within 10 kilometres.

Schindler has indicated that Environment Canada scientists should not just present their findings at scientific conferences, but also to the Joint Review Panel reviewing Shell’s proposed Jackpine oil sands mine expansion. 


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