Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Two-Mouthed Fish Discovered Near Alberta Tar Sands (two stories)

Two-Mouthed Fish Discovered Near Alberta Oil Sands, CBC Reports
By Jeremy van Loon

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- A mutant fish with two mouths was caught in northern Alberta, near the Canadian province's Athabasca oil sands, stoking residents' concerns about pollution, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The fish was hooked from a dock at Lake Athabasca and handed over to park wardens, CBC said on its Web site today. Locals are fighting expansion of heavy oil production because of its impact on the environment, the Web site said.

Canada's ministry of health in June said that it would investigate rising rates of cancer among residents in Fort Chipewyan, which borders the oils sands region and is home to about 1,200 people. Community members said they plan to start legal and public information campaigns in Europe and North America calling for a moratorium on oil sands development, CBC said.

Producing oil from bitumen, a sticky black substance, requires more fresh water and energy than traditional crude oil production. Canada's oil sands region holds the world's second- largest reserves of the fossil fuel, after Saudia Arabia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy van Loon in Ottawa at jvanloon@bloomberg.net.


"Mutated fish" and green group rejection cranks up pressure on oil sands

As a "mutated fish" is reportedly found at a site downstream of one of Canada's controversial oil sands development, leading green groups walk away from project approval initiative

Danny Bradbury, BusinessGreen, 20 Aug 2008

The Canadian government's efforts to soothe concern over oil sands developments in the north of the country took a hit yesterday, when three environmental groups abandoned a nine year-old effort to negotiate environmental responsibility in the region.

The Pembina Institute, Toxics Watch Society of Alberta and the Fort McMurray Environmental Society all left the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA), a non-governmental, non-profit group set up to gather data and make recommendations to both the regional and national governments on how to minimise the environmental impacts of oil sands activities.

CEMA was formed in 2000 to help support the Alberta Government’s Regional Sustainable Development Strategy (RSDS), created the previous year. But Simon Dyer, oil sands programme director at the Pembina Institute, said that he no longer believed CEMA was able to fulfill the goals of the RSDS.

"There's an expression in the forest industry: "talk and log", where you engage critics, but in the meantime, practice business as usual," said Dyer, who accused the government of Alberta of selling off oil leases for lands which were still being reviewed by CEMA. "CEMA is supposed to be making these recommendations, while the Alberta and the federal governments are unilaterally trying to progress projects as quickly as possible."

The Pembina Institute also issued a proposal for more effective environmental stewardship in Northern Alberta, the region affected by oil sands development. The report recommended stopping all processing of lease applications while an independent panel reviews how the regulatory process could be developed to support the RSDS. The report also recommends guidelines on the amount of water that the oil sands industry is allowed to draw from the Athabasca river.

CEMA spokesman hit back at the Institute's criticism, accusing it of refusing to fully engage with the project. "They didn't consult with us. They sent us a copy of the report at the weekend and said "that's it, we're leaving," he said.

The decision by the green groups to leave CEMA is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the organisation, after aboriginal groups the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) also left the group. Both of those organisations represent people who inhabit land affected by oil sands activities.

The groups' departure could not come at a worse time for CEMA. Last weekend, attendees at the Keepers of the Water conference – an environmental conference designed to promote conservation in the oil sands area – reportedly presented a "mutated fish" with two mouths that had been caught at Fort Chipewyan, downstream of the oil sands development at Fort McMurray.

The latest row comes just weeks after a major report from the UK's Co-operative Investments urged firms not to invest in oil sands projects on the grounds that the environmental and regulatory risks were too high. Environmentalists have repeatedly claimed that oil extracted from tar soaked sands is up to eight times more carbon intensive than conventional oil, because of the energy it takes to extract and refine the oil.


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