Saskatchewan Is 'Down Stream' And 'Down Wind' From Massive Alberta Oilsands Pollution
"EDMONTON – An independent study suggests pollution from Alberta's oilsands is nearly five times greater and twice as widespread as industry figures say. The study says toxic emissions from the controversial industry are equal to a major oil spill occurring every year. Government and industry officials say contamination in area soils and rivers is natural, but the report links it firmly to oilsands mining.
"We found rather massive inputs of toxic organic compounds by the oilsands industry to the Athabasca River and its tributaries," said David Schindler, a co-author of the study. "The major contribution to the river was from industry." The study, published Monday in the U.S.-based Proceedings of National Academy of Science, also takes direct aim at Alberta's monitoring program.
"Our study confirms the serious defects of the (regional aquatic monitoring program)," it says. "More than 10 years of inconsistent sampling design, inadequate statistical power and monitoring-insensitive responses have missed major sources of (contamination) to the Athabasca watershed."
Albertans seem content to allow the oil industry to pollute their province's air, streams, rivers and lakes with tons of toxic pollutants. Unfortuantely prevailing westerly weather patterns bring tons of pollutants across the border to settle on Saskatchewan farmland. As well, most river systems run from Alberta into Saskatchewan bringing toxic compounds across the provincial border. Yet, not one word of concern has come from Brad Wall's Right Wing, Saskatchewan Party administration.
"With the release of the Oilsands Advisory Panel’s Report today, NDP Environment critic Sandra Morin sharply criticized the Wall Government for failing to implement an adequate plan to monitor and measure the level of harmful toxins coming from Alberta’s oil sands and polluting Saskatchewan’s air and water.
Morin said the Official Opposition is working on a Private Member’s Bill directly related to Alberta’s oil sands pollution, which will be introduced in the Spring Session of the Legislature. The Private Member’s Bill will ensure that the people of Saskatchewan are protected from environmental threats to their health and well-being.
“The Wall Government has already broken its election campaign promise to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the province, so the public is demanding answers as to what Premier Wall is doing to tackle the very serious issue of Alberta’s oil sands polluting Saskatchewan’s water and air,” said Morin. "The Advisory Panel’s report notes that industrial oil sands activity in Alberta has potential effects that reach into Saskatchewan. What is the Wall government doing to address the monitoring gaps identified by the Advisory Panel’s report, and what demands is the Premier willing to place on the Alberta government in order to protect the health and well-being of Saskatchewan’s people?"
Morin noted that while the focus of the Advisory Panel’s report was the aquatic monitoring system, earlier studies cited in the press have raised concerns about air pollution as well: according to a Canadian Press report, 150,000 tonnes of acid-rain causing pollution is produced by oil sands activity each year, with 70 per cent of that pollution blowing into Saskatchewan. “This huge volume of pollution would obviously affect Saskatchewan farmland, forests, water and human health,” said Morin.
“If Alberta is sending these toxins into Saskatchewan, the people of this province deserve to have their health protected, and to be compensated for any damage. My Private Member’s Bill will see to it that the Alberta government, which profits from the oil sands, pays the people of this province for the cost of protecting our health and cleaning up our environment,” said Morin.
“This latest report on the environmental impact of the oil sands once again recognizes that Saskatchewan’s environment, economy and quality of life are being affected by activity in Alberta. Saskatchewan residents need every assurance that their right to a clean and healthy environment is protected, and my bill will help do that,” said Morin. “The first step to finding out how much we should be receiving to protect our health and clean up our environment, however, is to have a comprehensive plan to monitor and measure the pollution coming across our borders, and the Wall government must act to improve its efforts in this area right away.”
Saskatchewan New Democrat Caucus Office