Analysis: Oilsands poisoning groundwater


Praxius
#1
Analysis: Oilsands poisoning groundwater - Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald.ca

Quote:

EDMONTON (CP) ó The toxic tailings ponds from Albertaís oilsands mines leak enough contaminated water into the regionís aquifers every day to almost fill five Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to a new analysis by two environmental groups.

And if all the oilsands projects now on the books are constructed, that contamination could grow nearly sevenfold and potentially leave a massive legacy of poisoned groundwater.

"This is one of the ominous parts of this," said Matt Price of Environmental Defence, who authored the report being released Tuesday. "It could very well take a generation for this stuff to show up. And by that time, you canít stop it."

But the director of oilsands environmental management for the Alberta government said the report makes several mistaken assumptions.

Oilsands tailings are created as hot water is used to separate bitumen from the sand and clay that holds it.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 litres of tailings are produced for every barrel of bitumen. Tailings ponds now cover about 130 square kilometres in the Fort McMurray area.

Those "ponds" are held in place by earthen dikes. Most of the leakage is captured by ditches, barriers or wells, but some water still escapes.

Price and analysts from the environmental think-tank Pembina Consulting collected data from oilsands companies themselves on how much water they expect is leaking from their tailings ponds.

The total was just over 11 million litres a day. Over the course of a year, thatís enough water to fill the Toronto Skydome 2 1/2 times. The tailings are known to be harmful, containing chemicals that are both toxic and carcinogenic. Studies have shown that wetlands irrigated with tailings water suffer increased mortality for birds and slower growth for plants. Last April, about 500 ducks died when they landed on one of the ponds.

But Preston McEachern of Alberta Environment says that most of the seepage from tailings ponds goes into aquifers so deep that they themselves are contaminated by flowing through the oilsands.

"Itís dirty water, just like process-affected water in tailings ponds," he said.

Well seems like Someone in the NDP were on the ball when it came to halting further development to the oil sands until proper environmental protection measures were made.
 
Vanni Fucci
#2
Well in these times of economic uncertainty, we have to forgo some of the luxuries that we were once accustomed to...drinking water and wildlife obviously should have to take a back seat to the crucial importance of keeping the oil flowing.
 
Said1
#3
Considering the life expectancy of industrial civilization is coming to a close, I'm gonna learn how to make candles and chop wood. Water might be problem, though.
 
Vanni Fucci
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

Considering the life expectancy of industrial civilization is coming to a close, I'm gonna learn how to make candles and chop wood. Water might be problem, though.

You could filter it through your pantyhose...

I however don't have pantyhose, so I guess I'm completely ****ed...
 
Said1
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Vanni Fucci View Post

You could filter it through your pantyhose...

I however don't have pantyhose, so I guess I'm completely ****ed...

Don't feel bad. You lived a full life and it's not to late to turn your life over to God.
 
Vanni Fucci
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

Don't feel bad. You lived a full life and it's not to late to turn your life over to God.

Maybe it's time to set the record straight and see if those deathbed conversions really work...

Of course dying of thirst is preceded by delusions and vivid hallucinations...how could I be sure that it is really the almighty I'm asking forgiveness from and not some image conjured from my subconscious...

Dammit where's a ****ing priest when I need one!!
 
Tyr
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

Don't feel bad. You lived a full life and it's not to late to turn your life over to God.

In my case, it would more likely to be the "godless"
 
Said1
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Vanni Fucci View Post

Maybe it's time to set the record straight and see if those deathbed conversions really work...

Of course dying of thirst is preceded by delusions and vivid hallucinations...how could I be sure that it is really the almighty I'm asking forgiveness from and not some image conjured from my subconscious...

Dammit where's a ****ing priest when I need one!!

Is it the Buddhists who say you're supposed to ignore the visions of Christ etc while mediating during extended periods of self-deprivation?
 
Tyr
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

Considering the life expectancy of industrial civilization is coming to a close, I'm gonna learn how to make candles and chop wood. Water might be problem, though.

Hmmm. Life without a IPhone, big screen plasma TV and my laptop!!!!

yikes.

I gotta get out more...
 
Said1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Tyr View Post

Hmmm. Life without a IPhone, big screen plasma TV and my laptop!!!!

yikes.

I gotta get out more...

Apparently it's all downhill from here (200 . Sorry.
 
Praxius
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

Apparently it's all downhill from here (200 . Sorry.

You do know that things can be done to prevent this contamination of the lands/waters and it doesn't have to be a *shrugs* "Well it was fun.... I'm off to go lemming myself now."

I don't suppose anybody has any suggestions on what should be done in regards to the original topic or is this just going to continue into a useless banter about things that really don't relate?
 
Vanni Fucci
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

I don't suppose anybody has any suggestions on what should be done in regards to the original topic or is this just going to continue into a useless banter about things that really don't relate?

Well I'm sure it could digress a little further...

But if you want a response to the OP then so be it...

I think that what you said is the correct course of action, a moratorium on further oil sands development until the environmental impact can be properly studied and solutions provided...

The oilmen need to be reigned in before the damage is irreparable...
 
JLM
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

Analysis: Oilsands poisoning groundwater - Nova Scotia News - TheChronicleHerald.ca



Well seems like Someone in the NDP were on the ball when it came to halting further development to the oil sands until proper environmental protection measures were made.

Maybe that's the water they should be using to back fill the wells after the oil has been pumped out. The experts claim that water used for that purpose is lost from the system permanently.
 
#juan
#14
Quote:

Oil Sands poisoning the ground water

Among other things like the Athabaska River. They have dozens of these huge poisonous lakes that they call tailing ponds. Ducks land on them and die. Guess what....The poison is seeping out the bottom of these ponds and getting into the ground water.. It is also poisoning the river and the river delta. The tar sands are a disgusting mess that is driven by the oil industry's greed.
 
Said1
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

You do know that things can be done to prevent this contamination of the lands/waters and it doesn't have to be a *shrugs* "Well it was fun.... I'm off to go lemming myself now."

I don't suppose anybody has any suggestions on what should be done in regards to the original topic or is this just going to continue into a useless banter about things that really don't relate?


I think the inevitable process of deindustrialisation is very relevant, given the nature of the topic, wouldn't you?

What did you suggest, aside from the obvious 'lemming like' answer?
 
Praxius
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by #juan View Post

Among other things like the Athabaska River. They have dozens of these huge poisonous lakes that they call tailing ponds. Ducks land on them and die. Guess what....The poison is seeping out the bottom of these ponds and getting into the ground water.. It is also poisoning the river and the river delta. The tar sands are a disgusting mess that is driven by the oil industry's greed.

Agreed and when they apparently attempted to push aside concerns by explaining the Tailing Ponds are:

..... held in place by earthen dikes. Most of the leakage is captured by ditches, barriers or wells, but some water still escapes.

Not just that little snippet of "Some water still escapes" but Earth, no matter how much you compress or compact it, it isn't like plastic or concrete and the contamination will eventually and gradually spread like a giant sponge..... and sponges only hold so much and don't really hold liquid all that well.... eventually it will release what it can not hold.

Not to mention rains and other weather conditions that may spread that contamination beyond those ponds, which they claim is already happening.

I'm not about to say this because I'm a jerk, but I am glad that I don't live near the oil sands.

And what good will all that profit and money do when in the long run you'll end up spending more for your own health and the environment around you due to years of allowing this to continue?

Besides the hazzards listed in the above report, what do they know about the direct effects on the humans who work around these areas all the time?

If there isn't any real protection for the environment from the oil sands, then what can we expect for protection towards the humans who work and live around them?
 
Praxius
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

I think the inevitable process of deindustrialisation is very relevant, given the nature of the topic, wouldn't you?

What did you suggest, aside from the obvious 'lemming like' answer?

I don't believe it has to come down to deindustrialization, but rather hang onto all existing development, companies and jobs for the oil sands, but stop making the problem worse by expanding for the time being until the existing companies and development can be retro-fitted in a way that can secure the environment around the oil sands and assure the safety and health of those who work there.

Once everything is optimized and made as safe as possible for humans and nature alike.... then goto town and haul all the oil you want.

But of course I would rather us just stop using fossil fuels altogether, but I am also realistic and know that's a long stretch.
 
Tyr
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

I think the inevitable process of deindustrialisation is very relevant, given the nature of the topic, wouldn't you?

What did you suggest, aside from the obvious 'lemming like' answer?

Alternative energy sources. It's just that basic. Societies reliance on oil has been highlighted as a problem since the OPEC embargo in the '70's and if you are familiar with the The Hubbert peak theory (also known as peak oil), it has been known for quite some time. It posits that future petroleum production (whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production) will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted. It also suggests a method to calculate the timing of this peak, based on past production rates, the observed peak of past discovery rates, and proven oil reserves. The peak of oil discoveries was in 1965, and oil production per year has surpassed oil discoveries every year since 1980.

So if we have known that source oil (being non-renewable) is decling, why hasn't there been a massive effort towards, wind, solar, water (tides), etc. Because as one poster pointed out "we are lemmings"

We twend to wait until the last possible moment to look up and exclaim, s--t, what do we do now?

Huge gov't incentive to alternative sources would seem to be the immediate answer in order to reduce our dependance 10 yrs down the road
 
karrie
#19
Okay, so I keep coming back to playing devil's advocate over this stuff. part of the reason why is, I loathe the idea that almost all of our fish is contaminated with pesticides, the chemicals which comprise non-stick coatings, and a host of other crap. I hate the fact that we have a continent of plastic forming in the ocean. I hate that vehicle fumes, household chemicals, and living near gas stations, are killing off a large number of our youth through assorted cancers. We are STEEPED in chemicals and toxins, and people just keep buying more... spraying them on their lawns, their couches, their kids. And they don't think twice about it because it's marketed, and it's spread out where they can't see it.

But the oil sands... oh, we can see the oil sands. The impact of the oil sands happens all in one convenient place, and looks like pure devastation. I hate the oil sands.

With that being said though, is there any truth to what the oil companies claim? If you live near the oil sands, and your water runs THROUGH oil sand on a daily basis (keep in mind, they didn't put the stuff there, and all they're adding to it is steam), is it contaminating your ground water supply?
 
Tyr
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by karrie View Post

Okay, so I keep coming back to playing devil's advocate over this stuff. part of the reason why is, I loathe the idea that almost all of our fish is contaminated with pesticides, the chemicals which comprise non-stick coatings, and a host of other crap. I hate the fact that we have a continent of plastic forming in the ocean. I hate that vehicle fumes, household chemicals, and living near gas stations, are killing off a large number of our youth through assorted cancers. We are STEEPED in chemicals and toxins, and people just keep buying more... spraying them on their lawns, their couches, their kids. And they don't think twice about it because it's marketed, and it's spread out where they can't see it.

But the oil sands... oh, we can see the oil sands. The impact of the oil sands happens all in one convenient place, and looks like pure devastation. I hate the oil sands.

With that being said though, is there any truth to what the oil companies claim? If you live near the oil sands, and your water runs THROUGH oil sand on a daily basis (keep in mind, they didn't put the stuff there, and all they're adding to it is steam), is it contaminating your ground water supply?


Oil in oil sansds that are in the natural environ are trapped there and there is very little leaching. Once process, the oil contamination becomes a suspended particulate in the water (typically storage ponds, fills and abandoned mines) and is prone to a much greater degree of seepage into groundwater.

Efforts have been made to recycle the the tailings (effluent), drain the water into a recycling facility (much like sewage treatement plants) and then bury the leftover sludge. It's better trhan what they are currently doing, but still not great
 
pgs
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Tyr View Post

Alternative energy sources. It's just that basic. Societies reliance on oil has been highlighted as a problem since the OPEC embargo in the '70's and if you are familiar with the The Hubbert peak theory (also known as peak oil), it has been known for quite some time. It posits that future petroleum production (whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production) will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted. It also suggests a method to calculate the timing of this peak, based on past production rates, the observed peak of past discovery rates, and proven oil reserves. The peak of oil discoveries was in 1965, and oil production per year has surpassed oil discoveries every year since 1980.

So if we have known that source oil (being non-renewable) is decling, why hasn't there been a massive effort towards, wind, solar, water (tides), etc. Because as one poster pointed out "we are lemmings"

We twend to wait until the last possible moment to look up and exclaim, s--t, what do we do now?

Huge gov't incentive to alternative sources would seem to be the immediate answer in order to reduce our dependance 10 yrs down the road

I think we better think about getting horses.
LoL
 
Said1
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by Tyr View Post

Alternative energy sources. It's just that basic. Societies reliance on oil has been highlighted as a problem since the OPEC embargo in the '70's and if you are familiar with the The Hubbert peak theory (also known as peak oil), it has been known for quite some time. It posits that future petroleum production (whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production) will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted. It also suggests a method to calculate the timing of this peak, based on past production rates, the observed peak of past discovery rates, and proven oil reserves. The peak of oil discoveries was in 1965, and oil production per year has surpassed oil discoveries every year since 1980.

So if we have known that source oil (being non-renewable) is decling, why hasn't there been a massive effort towards, wind, solar, water (tides), etc. Because as one poster pointed out "we are lemmings"

We twend to wait until the last possible moment to look up and exclaim, s--t, what do we do now?

Huge gov't incentive to alternative sources would seem to be the immediate answer in order to reduce our dependance 10 yrs down the road

Yes, I am familiar with Hubbert's and in particular, Duncan's Olduvai theory. Like the Mathusians, people are always claiming their theorys do not account for social and technological change. I think they did include those factors in the correct way as overall consuption has increased and production has decreased as explained in their theorys, with the same consequences. Duncan also predicted a depression not unlike the 30's for this time period AND I just heard on the news that Canada is officially in a recession. Talk about prophecy.
Last edited by Said1; Dec 9th, 2008 at 10:40 PM..
 
Said1
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

I don't believe it has to come down to deindustrialization, but rather hang onto all existing development, companies and jobs for the oil sands, but stop making the problem worse by expanding for the time being until the existing companies and development can be retro-fitted in a way that can secure the environment around the oil sands and assure the safety and health of those who work there.

Once everything is optimized and made as safe as possible for humans and nature alike.... then goto town and haul all the oil you want.

But of course I would rather us just stop using fossil fuels altogether, but I am also realistic and know that's a long stretch.

With all due respect, I agree. IHO.

Honestly, I know very little about the process and even less about any type of risk assessment studies that might have been done prior to developing the tars sands for extraction. Just the fact that oil prices have reached the point where extraction is profitable is worrisome enough for me. But I'm just weee lemming, how am I supposed to know from facts!
 
Praxius
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

With all due respect, I agree. IHO.

Honestly, I know very little about the process and even less about any type of risk assessment studies that might have been done prior to developing the tars sands for extraction. Just the fact that oil prices have reached the point where extraction is profitable is worrisome enough for me. But I'm just weee lemming, how am I supposed to know from facts!

By simply asking, it's your right to know that sort of information. The government and those who represent you and whom you voted for (Or at least voted to have a say) have a duty to ensure that you and everybody else's health is not being affected. They should get that information for you and/or get an independant researcher into the whole matter to get down to the truth.

If your health is as risk, then more digging is required and I would be seeking out the names of those who approved such projects with such disregard for the health of those surrounding, as well as the environment.

If I couldn't get this information in the normal ways, then I would seek out this information through the "Request for Access to Information" process or whatever you call it and get the information this way.

Then of course make this information public through the media or by other means such at the internet....... then attempt to gather as many people as you can to launch a class action lawsuit against the government or the company or both.

Get some people jailed, get things fixed to the way they should be.

The best weapon against corruption is the truth.
 
Vanni Fucci
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Said1 View Post

With all due respect, I agree. IHO.

scratch?

Is this yet another iteration of your many and varied persona?
 
Stretch
#26
for the life of me , I cant figer out how this is a surprise.....oil, sand,.... underneath it all is water......what the hell was the expected outcome??
 
barney
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

If your health is as risk, then more digging is required

Don't you mean more 'drilling' is required? (Sorry, couldn't resist...I know, LAME)

As to a less-childish answer to your serious statement:

Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius View Post

The best weapon against corruption is the truth.

Of course. And common sense, or rationality, or logic, or whatever you want to call it leads to the truth (also known as, 'the facts'). The reason why these very important issues are not dealt with (or at least not dealt with adequately), isn't because people are unable to get the facts, it's because people (i.e. your fellow Canadians) don't want to accept the truth. This is all-too-frequently reflected by who they vote for; why would you expect someone who represents political interests that promote money-making over responsible government to suddenly about-turn and wade into oily waters that even socially-responsible types fear to swim in?

Until you deal with the me-generation's faults, dealing with problems like whether or not to proceed with activities which are clearly harmful to the environment and the population, will be an endlessly frustrating governmental nightmare.
 
Lester
#28
Ok so, - the heavy metals and other contaminants that are LEFT over(TAILINGS) from the extraction process, this waste is pumped into the tailings pond(s),which is supposed to be enviromentally isolated and somewhat leak proof. Apparently this is not the case as the tailings have leaking into the aquifers and river system by the millions of litres per year. I do not know how this problem can be solved short of shutting them down or insisting that all new plants have to be constructed Insitu(steam injected, no mining)
 
karrie
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by Lester View Post

Ok so, - the heavy metals and other contaminants that are LEFT over(TAILINGS) from the extraction process, this waste is pumped into the tailings pond(s),which is supposed to be enviromentally isolated and somewhat leak proof. Apparently this is not the case as the tailings have leaking into the aquifers and river system by the millions of litres per year. I do not know how this problem can be solved short of shutting them down or insisting that all new plants have to be constructed Insitu(steam injected, no mining)

I don't see how in situ is any less risky for the water table though. With in situ drilling the steam extraction will still leave behind tailings, just deeper within the soil, where they can't possibly be contained, and have less distance to have to leech through (thus less soil to filter them) before hitting the water table. It's the exact same process, just one requires digging, one doesn't.
 
Vanni Fucci
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by Lester View Post

Ok so, - the heavy metals and other contaminants that are LEFT over(TAILINGS) from the extraction process, this waste is pumped into the tailings pond(s),which is supposed to be enviromentally isolated and somewhat leak proof. Apparently this is not the case as the tailings have leaking into the aquifers and river system by the millions of litres per year. I do not know how this problem can be solved short of shutting them down or insisting that all new plants have to be constructed Insitu(steam injected, no mining)

Would proper containment tanks be outside the realm of possibility?

Truth is I don't know enough about the process, to know whether this is possible or not, and I don't really feel like reading up on it...
 

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