Fort McMurray

Tue, 2013-06-11 19:10Heather Libby and Carol Linnitt
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Fort McMurray, Home to 176 Square km of Tar Sands Tailings Ponds, Overwhelmed by Floods

On Friday the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta government's industry regulator, released a report stating that tar sands companies have failed to comply with pre-existing agreements to limit the amount of water used in tar sands extraction and processing as well as the amount of polluted water that ends up in the region's growing toxic tailings ponds.

The release of the report coincides with massive floods near Fort McMurray, wreaking havoc on the city's infrastructure. Since Friday the region has seen between 80 and 180mm of precipitation. Major highways have been closed, roads have been partially washed out, buildings flooded and homes evacuated. The city of Fort McMurray officially declared a state of emergency today, while unseasonably high temperatures prompt snow melt and rain is forecast to continue throughout the week.

The immediate question is apparent: what threat does the flooding pose to the massive tailings ponds lining the Athabasca River and the millions of litres of toxic contaminants they contain?

Fri, 2013-01-18 05:00Carol Linnitt
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Federal Study Reignites Pollution Concern in Expanding Tar Sands Region

Dr. David Schindler, the scientist who sounded the alarm on tar sands contamination back in 2010, has suddenly found his research backed by an Environment Canada study recently published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The federal study, which confirmed Schindler’s hotly-contested research, has reignited concerns over the pace and scale of development in the Athabasca region, an area now beset with a host of ecological and human health concerns. 

Tue, 2012-10-02 17:43Carol Linnitt
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First Nation Challenges Shell Canada's Jackpine Mine Expansion, Citing Constitutional Treaty Rights

Yesterday the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) announced their plans to constitutionally challenge Shell Oil Canada's expansion of the Jackpine Mine tar sands project. The project expansion would threaten the resources needed to sustain rights protected under Treaty 8, which the ACFN signed in 1899 at Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca. A joint federal-provincial review panel will hear the challenge - the first of its kind to appear before such a group - on October 23rd, 6 days before the Jackpine Mine expansion application will make its own appearance before the panel on October 29.

The Jackpine Mine expansion would disturb 12,719 hectares of land and destroy 21 kilometers of the culturally significant Muskeg River, according to ACFN's press release issued yesterday
 
In addition, greenhouse gas emissions from the project would total 2.36 megatons of CO2 equivalent each year - an increase of 5.2 per cent in tar sands emissions from 2009, or roughly 281,000 cars on the road. Since Shell proposed the expansion in 2007, 11 additional projects have been proposed in the tar sands region.
Wed, 2011-09-28 11:10Guest
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Tar Trek: Two BC Teenagers Take on the Tar Sands [Video]

This is a guest post by our friend Heather Libby.

In my job at TckTckTck, I spend a lot of time worrying about the Alberta tar sands. I've read hundreds of articles, watched dozens of films and worked on my fair share of infographics about them. I could spend hours listing out all of the reasons why the tar sands are such a dangerous operation. And if after all that, you still didn't believe me, I'd tell you to visit them for yourself.

This summer I had the pleasure of meeting seventeen-year-old students Liam and Daniel as they prepared to spend their summer vacation in Fort McMurray doing just that. When polarizing discussions around the tar sands began to dominate the media earlier this year, Liam and Daniel convinced their parents to allow them the space to make up their own minds. The best way to do that, as Liam wisely says in the film “is to see them for ourselves.”

During their time in Fort McMurray, Liam and Daniel toured an active tar sands operation and met with working residents. They talked to a doctor at the Fort McMurray hospital treating locals and workers. They stopped off in Calgary to speak with Andrew Nikiforuk, author of a defining book about the tar sands and its impacts on Canada. The resulting 10 minute film of their experiences is equal parts thoughtful, earnest, playful and honest. Don't believe me? Watch it yourself: 

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