Tag Archives: Contamination

Will Canada’s oil boom be an environmental bust? The new global wasteland?


Alberta the new oil wasteland

Alberta the new oil wasteland

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) — The largest dump truck in the world is parked under a massive mechanical shovel waiting to transport 400 tons of oily sand at an open pit mine in the northern reaches of Alberta. Each Caterpillar 797B heavy hauler — three-stories high, with tires twice as tall as the average man — carries the equivalent of 200 barrels.

Shell, which has 35 of the massive loaders working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has ordered 16 more — at $5 million each — as it expands its open pit mines. And it is not alone among major oil companies rushing to exploit Alberta’s oil sands, which make Canada one of the few countries that can significantly ramp up oil production amid the decline in conventional reserves.

Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Canada’s Imperial and other companies plan to strip an area here the size of New York state that could yield as much as 175 billion barrels of oil. Daily production of 1.2 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to nearly triple to 3.5 million barrels in 2020. Overall, Alberta has more oil than Venezuela, Russia or Iran. Only Saudi Arabia has more.

High prices — a barrel reached almost $150 last month and is around $115 now — are fueling the province’s oil boom. Since it’s costly to extract oil from the sands, using the process on a widespread basis began to make sense only when crude prices started skyrocketing earlier this century.

But the enormous amount of energy and water needed in the extraction process has raised fears among scientists, environmentalists and officials in an aboriginal town 170 miles downstream from Fort McMurray. The critics say the growing operations by major oil companies will increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests.

“Their projected rates of expansion are so fast that we don’t have a hope in hell of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. David Schindler, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta.

Oil sands operations, including extraction and processing, are responsible for 4 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s expected to triple to 12 percent by 2020. Oil sand mining is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and is one reason it reneged on its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Experts say producing a barrel of oil from sands results in emissions three times greater than a conventional barrel of oil.

Worries about environmental damage have gotten enough attention that even the oil industry realizes it must tread softly on the issue. “Industry has to improve its environmental performance,” Brian Maynard, a vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said recently.

Questions about developing Alberta’s oil sands have seeped into the U.S. presidential campaign and the debate in Canada and the U.S. over keeping down the price of gasoline while still protecting the environment.

The Bush administration sees Alberta as a reliable source of energy that will help reduce reliance on Middle East oil. U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said the oil sands will define the relationship between the two countries for the next 10 years.

“We are blessed by the fact that our friend and neighbor is also our number one supplier of foreign oil,” Wilkins told The Associated Press.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s top energy adviser said oil sands emissions are “unacceptably high” and may run counter to Obama’s plan to shift the U.S. away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

“The amount of energy that you have to use to get that oil out of the ground is such that it actually creates a much greater impact on climate change, as well as using much more energy than even traditional petroleum,” Obama adviser Jason Grumet said.

Mining oil sands also was criticized by American mayors in a resolution adopted at their annual conference in June urging a ban on using oil sands-derived gasoline in municipal vehicles. They alleged the oil sands mines damage Canada’s boreal forest — boreal refers to the earth’s northern zone — and slows the transition to cleaner energy sources in the U.S.

John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, warned that Washington would lose energy security if it doesn’t take Alberta’s oil.

“If American mayors want to send their money to unstable, undemocratic countries in the Middle East instead of to Canada, that will be their call. If they want to pay a premium for Iranian, Saudi, Iraqi oil that will be their call,” Baird told the AP.

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Ontario Listeriosis Update August 22, 2008


Listeriosis

Listeriosis

Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health reported today that two additional deaths have been confirmed to be directly caused by the listeriosis outbreak. This brings the total number of deaths to three.Outbreak associated cases of Listeriosis have also been reported in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Quebec.

QUOTES

“We will continue to monitor the situation very closely,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “I would like to remind the public, especially those at high risk for Listeriosis, such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems, to avoid consuming any meats connected with the CFIA recall. If in doubt – throw it out.”
QUICK FACTS

* Listeriosis is a reportable disease under Ontario Regulation 569 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
* The incubation period for Listeriosis is from three to seventy days with an average incubation period of three weeks.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE:

August 25, 2008

NEWS

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s listeriosis update, as of Monday, August 25, 2008.

The local public health units have been asked to check their local hospitals, long-term care homes and daycares to ensure that any products from the Toronto Maple Leaf plant have been removed and are not being consumed. In addition, they have also been advised to check for recalled products at key retail outlet locations.

Last Friday, the public health units were asked to check the smaller stores, mom-and-pop shops that may not have heard of the recall.

QUOTES

“I would like to remind the public to check their refrigerators and ensure that any products related to the food recall are thrown out,” said Dr David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

LEARN MORE

For an up-to-date list on this recall and other CFIA consumer food recalls online

Find out more about Listeriosis online

Contact your local public health unit.

For public inquires call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only) Members of the media :

Mark Nesbitt, 416-314-6197
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
ontario.ca/health-news