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PostPosted: May 1st, 2008, 9:11 pm 
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so 500 mallards die landing in a partially frozen tailings pond, an exclamation point to the recent eco-friendly attempts by the oil sands. This seems fairly insignifigant given the enormous enviro cost of the oil sands in terms of water and many species. One of the press versions of this mentions that they flew 3 of the ducks to edmonton from Fort McMurray on the corporate jet to attempt revival. I would suggest this is a desperate, misguided, cynical and especially absurd attempt by the company to defend its' overall actions. Other thoughts?

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 1:25 am 
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The story got some coverage down here in the States:

NYTimes: "Canadians Investigate Death of Ducks at Oil-Sands Project"

There was clearly something overlooked by Syncrude. They say heavy snows prevented them from using propane-powered noise machines to scare away the birds (as they had done in the past). And they didn't report the incident. An anonymous tip alerted officials to the birds. Alberta and Environment Canada are both investigating, and there could be a fine of up to $1 million CAD (less in U.S. funny money).

Quote:
The episode comes as environmental groups in Canada and the United States are pushing for a slowdown or even a halt to further oil-sands development in northern Alberta.

The investigation by Alberta, as well as by Environment Canada, could result in fines up to a million Canadian dollars.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 5:51 am 
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$1million per bird I hope.

Oil companies, record profits and record destruction of our planet. When will it stop.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 6:04 am 
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This has very likely been going on for a long time, the oil companies block access to the area so unless an insider reports an incident, the public simply does not know.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 6:40 am 
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http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story ... follo.html


Quote:
People in the region trust that the oil companies are following the rules and not polluting the environment, she said, but her confidence has been shaken by the news that Syncrude did not report the duck incident.

"Not telling us this, what else are they not telling us?" she asked.

>>snip<<

Questions are also being raised about oil companies' environmental practices in Fort Chipewyan, which is on the ducks' migratory route and about 270 kilometres downstream from Fort McMurray along the Athabasca River.

First Nations people in Fort Chipewyan have worried for years about the impact of the upstream oilsands development on the health of their wildlife and water supply.

>>snip<<

The dead ducks are not the only environmental issue emergency officials were dealing with Thursday.

Late Wednesday they were notified of a pipeline rupture that spewed more than a hundred barrels of oil into the Otauwau River near Smith, Alta., about 200 kilometres north of Edmonton.

"Alberta Environment had a spill containment boom brought in.... That boom is there right now to contain and grab whatever oil remains in the water," said David Sheremata, spokesman for the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board.

The spill was in a remote area about 40 kilometres west of the town, and it has not affected the drinking supply, Sheremata said.

An investigation into the cause of the spill is underway.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 7:42 am 
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Red Lake Rob wrote:
$1million per bird I hope.

Oil companies, record profits and record destruction of our planet. When will it stop.


When WE stop using oil? How's the trucking business?

Duck hunters wound and lose probably 100's of thousands of mallards a year but oil companies should have to pay 1 million per bird? Right.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 7:59 am 
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Barbara wrote:
The spill was in a remote area about 40 kilometres west of the town, and it has not affected the drinking supply, Sheremata said.


yet. or something else.
is there any doubt there won't be any drinkable water in a huge area eventually? Alberta will not be able to save enough money now to rectify their problems later. They might want to think about that as they refuse to share the profits, that the Feds might not be so happy to share in clean-up. Will First Nation groups have a prayer at long-term sustainability on traditional lands? It all seems so obvious doesn't it.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 11:53 am 
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To add to Barbara's post … two stories from the CBC.

CBC: oil covered birds discovered in Wood Buffalo Park 250 km away.
CBC: Harper promises to "get to the bottom" of the incident (referenced above).

And I'm confused … was there an impression that these industries were "good" for the environment. Harper says the news will "no doubt" hurt Canada's reputation. Crude is messy, there was a pipeline rupture near Smith, Alberta, on Wednesday (a hundred barrels of oil ended up in Otauwau River), and the Alaska oil pipeline leaks. This is not news.

Clearly, any bad publicity that stands in the way of Mackenzie Valley pipline proposal is a cause of concern for regulators, politicians, and business.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 12:09 pm 
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Hi Mark,

Your question about drinking water?

remediation of spill sites is possible:
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/jour ... 1&SRETRY=0

crude oil and other hydrocarbons are not a "finite" contaminant like radiation is. It plumes outward and the contaminant changes due to interactions with the soil and time. GC-FID of soil samples from a contaminated site give indications of the size and age of the contamination.....I forget the spectrum of breakdown and there really are much more qualified people here to speak on it.

I think the important thing is to not get caught up in writing spills off as disasters rather force companies to re mediate immediately.
there is promising research on bacterial digestion in the tar sands....perhaps legislation that ties new development or profit margins to adopting and implementing this technology to remediation is more practical?

We are going to drain the worlds oil resources or face catastrophic environmental problems before we change the oil economy and our reliance
on it

Hey.... along the lines of the mushrooms and dioxin (Steve's article) remediation? tie it up front as part of the deal this time

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 12:56 pm 
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Well worth a look: "Athabasca River Expedition"

Two month canoe expedition sponsored by Pembina Institute with rivers stories, great videos, environmental updates, publications links, etc. An impressive web site.

Quote:
Connecting the Drops is an outreach and awareness campaign that culminates in a two-month expedition along the entire length of the Athabasca River. The expedition celebrates this extraordinary western waterway, a symbol of Canadian identity and wilderness.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 12:57 pm 
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[quote="idylwyld"][And I'm confused … was there an impression that these industries were "good" for the environment. quote]

As GWA so eloquently stated, we keep using oil like crazy - and that is just how I live my life too. Cars, plastics, energy, houses...how to get off that train? I suppose this goes back to an earlier thread about a mining spill in the far north. I think Ed posted it 6 months ago, where there were rules put in place, the companies broke them willingly, leaving local ecological disaster, but the penalties were relatively slight and had little prevention impact. Big oil will keep pumping (for my use), so isn't it the system and controls that are important?
- definitive approval and project management processes that limit size and unnecessary ecological damage
- penalties so severe the companies would do anything to be safely onside, (ie. double what is needed for water remediation and all associated human/nature losses). Not sure if that works out to a $1m per duck or not, or that ducks are the issue at all. I am afraid at the end of this run, Big Oil will gleefully leave for the coast comforted by their cost -to -benefit spreadsheets to keep them happy while ducks et al will flounder in the residue.
-Gail i couldn't open your link . I know a company whose product can filter sludge into pottable water but is only used in limited scope due to cost, even in real ugly disaster sites, (ie. only if the cost of the units is below the expected lawsuit values). Unless the water is sold for $120 a barrel I doubt we'll clean much of it if it costs $30 to make it safe again.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 1:03 pm 
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mark the splasher wrote:
Barbara wrote:
The spill was in a remote area about 40 kilometres west of the town, and it has not affected the drinking supply, Sheremata said.


yet. or something else.
is there any doubt there won't be any drinkable water in a huge area eventually? Alberta will not be able to save enough money now to rectify their problems later. They might want to think about that as they refuse to share the profits, that the Feds might not be so happy to share in clean-up. Will First Nation groups have a prayer at long-term sustainability on traditional lands? It all seems so obvious doesn't it.


Mark, do a search on the CBC website for "Fort Chipewyan". You should get some hits about the cancer concerns and studies, etc.



Barbara

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 1:19 pm 
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Remediation costs more the longer it sits.
Gasoline sucks cause it travels fast and is instantly cellularly toxic to everything biotic.
Depends on soil and groundwater profile as well....bitch to get out of fractured rock groundwater apparently (?) Speed of plume. Seen profiles of different spills that temporally were similar but where it spread and how far was different. Even the progression of breakdown.
Anyways, like I said I'm over my head on that.

I'll try another link to the remediation technology; it looked interesting

I'm thinking if it's your name on the contract, there's no court waiting and dragging...you clean it up. Dance with the lawyers afterwards but it's the cost of doing business in the Canadian Oil patch?
Don't know maybe naive?
Canadian government shouldn't be involved in ownership of pipelines.
definitive points of ownership of the product ...ie it's your mess to clean up until it reaches XYZ point?

Alberta is a ticking time bomb. NAFTA says we can't limit production to domestic but it doesn't say anything about the costs of cleanup for producing that product we are now obligated to provide. i think there's these quasi environmental funds by the oil companies but I'd have to look into it.....I suspect tokenism but haven't got anything to back that up.

This entire matter is the one area I think the current government really needs to have their feet to the fire on.

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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2008, 9:04 pm 
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Two papers I looked at suggest oil spills in the subarctic are very challenging to clean up, and the environment often remains damaged for decades. Among the many challenges: the acidic nature of peat, anaerobic water conditions, slow microbial processes for most of the year, low rates of nutrient turnover, a short thaw season, etc. One paper looked at spills in the vicinity of Lesser Slave Lake from 1970 to 1972, the Nipisi spill was the largest in Canadian history (approximately 60,000 barrels). 25 years later, the site is still recovering, and the underground oil is "relatively fresh."

Wang, Zhendi (et. al.)
1998 "Study of the 25-Year-Old Nipisi Oil Spill: Persistance of Oil Residues and Comparisons between Surface and Subsurface Sediments." Environmental Science and Technology 32(15):2222-32.

Braddock, Joan F. (et. al.)
2002 Weathering of a subarctic oil spill over 25 years: the Caribou-Poker Creeks Research Watershed Experiment. Cold Regions Science and Technology 36(1-3):11-23.

I couldn't get to the link you provided above. If anybody is really interested, I can email the first article. I'm no expert on any of this. While I'm sure there are some promising new technologies in development, it seems like spills are continuing to happen today (and they are having an impact now). I'm not sure I see the point of suggesting that some future technology is going to save the day. The area I worry about most is off shore oil development in the arctic (which is a far more fragile ecosystem than Prince William Sound).

Anchorage Daily News: "Record bids for oil, gas leases in Chukchi Sea" (Feb. 07, 2008). When Alaska takes the brunt of the environmental impact, but little of the economic benefit, you know something has gone wrong.


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PostPosted: May 4th, 2008, 12:18 pm 
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idylwyld wrote:
The area I worry about most is off shore oil development in the arctic (which is a far more fragile ecosystem than Prince William Sound).

Anchorage Daily News: [When Alaska takes the brunt of the environmental impact, but little of the economic benefit, you know something has gone wrong.



just an interesting unscientific comment from
Jay Leno excerpt in the May 08 Reader’s Digest

"Someone recently sent me an oil-company ad from 1974. It shows a giant glacier dominating a little ship the size of a dime. The ad says, “we produce enough energy in one day to melt this glacier in 11 seconds”. Can you imagine that ad running today?"

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