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Oil Sands produces new breed of mutated fish

A five pound goldeye with two mouths, one beneath the other, was caught last week downstream from the oil sands in Lake Athabasca.

How polluted is the Athabasca...

The Athabasca river has five pulp mills, along it as well as sewage treatment plants and then it runs up through the Athabasca Oil sands to to the lake.
The Chipewyan First Nation who live in the Fort Chipewyan area believe that the oil sands are polluting the river. 

"People are dying of rare cancers." said spokesperson Peter Cyprien. "We can't drink the water."
For the past 40 years, oil sands companies have been allowed to manage their toxic tailings waste on their own accord, without any strict government regulation around benchmarks, timelines or performance standards.

Alberta’s inventory of fluid fine tailings that require long term containment is now 720 million cubic metres.

and what has Alberta done to control the tailing ponds.

In response to 300 ducks dying and the negative criticism from the US Federation of Mayors, Democratic politicians and increased media exposure, Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) for the first time in 40 years released a new plan to better manage the the Tailings ponds.
Their draft proposes that the oil companies must now establish schedules detailing the management of the tailing ponds, and file these schedules by Dec. 31, 2009.

It also included the right of ERCB to step in and shut down an operation that failed to meet it stated objectives.

“It’s kind of ironic the ERCB is having to implement a directive which says we're going to pass new guidelines which will actually require industry to do what they told us they were going to do,” noted an executive director of the Parkland Institute.

“Shouldn’t we have been making sure industry was doing what they said they would all along”
Meanwhile Alberta's environmental facade is starting to fall apart..

Last week the Pembina Institute, a leading environmental think tank pulled it's support from the oil sands management association (CMEC ).
The "Cumulative Environmental Management Association" was created 8 years ago to come up with a plan for balancing industrial growth and protecting the ecosystem around the oilsands hub of Fort McMurray.

A spokesperson for Pembina said the government has been putting far too much time and resources approving new oilsands projects, to the point where there's often no government staff available to attend the association's meetings.

The Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and the Fort McMurray Environmental Association have also announced they will withdraw from the association.

In a new report released Monday, the Pembina Institute recommends the management association be dismantled and created again from scratch and organized so that the interests of all parties involved are heard and noted.
and unfortunately upon deaf ears...

Premier Ed Stelmach accurately explained Alberta's environmental commitment, last month when announcing his $2 billion investment in future technologies to control future gas emissions.
Alberta’s commitment to the environment is working in harmony with our position as a driving economic force in Canada.
For example, thousands of jobs are being created across Canada because of our oil sands, especially in the machinery, metal fabrication and manufacturing industries. Ed said.
as the priorities of Alberta remain unchanged.

I think we understand your provinces priorities Ed, but unfortunately you are starting to sound like the mayor of Amity Island
"Look it's probably just one fish and a handful of native people.
We need to keep the beaches open!"

References: Tar Sands Watch here, the Goldeye report from Macleans here and Pembina announcement from CNEWS here.


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