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Top 10 Facts About the Alberta Oil Sands PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Monday, 17 September 2012 19:13

Top 10 Facts About the Alberta Oil Sands



Tar sands mining. Photo: National Geographic

plus national geographic video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb2dB2H7j_o


Top 10 Facts About the Alberta Oil Sands



1. Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year. The water requirements for oil sands projects range from 2.5 to 4.0 barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced.



2. At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in tailing lakes so toxic that propane cannons and floating scarecrows are used to keep ducks from landing in them.



3. A 2003 report concluded that "an accident related to the failure of one of the oil sands tailings ponds could have catastrophic impact in the aquatic ecosystem of the Mackenzie River Basin due to the size of these lakes and their proximity to the Athabasca River."


4. In April, 2008 a flock of migrating ducks landed on a tar sands toxic lake and died.



5. Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes in Canada. Natural gas requirements for the oil sands industry are projected to increase substantially during the projected period from 17 million cubic metres (0.6 billion cubic feet) per day in 2003 to a range of 40 to 45 million cubic metres (1.4 to 1.6 billion cubic) feet per day in 2015.



6. The toxic tailing lakes are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The toxic lakes in Northern Alberta span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.



7. Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil. In 2004, oil sands production surpassed 160 000 cubic metres (one million barrels) per day; by 2015, oil sands production is expected to more than double to about 340 000 cubic metres (2.2 million barrels) per day.



8. The oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada. By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in Canada.



9. The Alberta Oil Sands Operation are the largest single point source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.



10. By 2015, the Alberta Oil Sands are expected to emit more greenhouse gases than the nation of Denmark (pop. 5.4 million).


Sources and more information on the Alberta Oil Sands:

1. Check out the Pembina Institute's Oil Sands Watch for an in-depth look at the Alberta Oil Sands.

2. Download Environmental Defence’s report (pdf) highlighting the environmental and health consequences of the Tar Sands: Canada’s Toxic Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth

3. CBC: Hundreds of ducks trapped on toxic Alberta oilsands pond

4. Boreal Songbird Initiative's Alberta Tar Sands Fact Sheet

5. Greenpeace Tar Sands Campaign

6. Stop the Tar Sands

7. Traveling Alberta (Tar Sands Vacation site)

Desmogblog (http://s.tt/1mmHU)

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