Alberta Tar Sands >
 Alberta Tar Sands Poisoning Canadians 
Report: Alberta Oil Sands Most Destructive Project on Earth
February 19, 2008
By Christopher Hatch and Matt Price

Posted 2009 Updated February 10, 2011

Environmental Defense [ of Canada ] has released a report calling the Alberta Oil Sands the most destructive project on Earth.


"Few Canadians know that Canada is home to one of the world's largest dams and it is built to hold toxic waste from just one Tar Sands operation," Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defense.

Alberta tar oil

And according to the report this is just the beginning. Approvals have already been given that will double the size of existing operations and Canada's leaders have been talking with the US government to grow oil sands operations in a "short time span."

Even a former Premier of Alberta is concerned. Peter Lougheed who served as Premier from 1971 to 1985 was recently quoted on the oil sands as saying: ... it is just a moonscape. It is wrong in my judgment, a major wrong... So it is a major, major federal and provincial issue."

However, there is a silver lining in all this. A recent Canadian parliamentary committee recently stated that:

"A business as usual approach to the development of the oil sands is not sustainable. The time has come to begin the transition to a clean energy future."
 Here are a few facts about the Alberta Oil Sands: 

17dot1a Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.

17dot1a At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing in them.
17dot1a Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes in Canada.
17dot1a The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world.
17dot1aThe ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
17dot1aProducing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

17dot1aThe oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada.

17dot1a By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in Canada.

 Here are is how Syncrude company is extracting oil from shale:  Koerner

Alberta oil sands extraction1. Syncrude shovels excavate thousands of tons of soil and clay, creating a 150-foot pit for mining the oil sands below.
2. Oil sand is piled high into monster Caterpillar trucks, capable of carrying 400 tons at a time.
3. The trucks dump their payload into crushers, which grind it down to fine oil-coated grains.
4. The sand is transferred via conveyor to a cyclofeeder, where it's mixed with hot water to produce a slurry. The slurry flows to the extraction facility, where large centrifuges separate out the oil-rich bitumen.
5. Bitumen flows to cokers, where it's heated to remove impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen, leaving only usable crude oil.
6. The crude is sold to off-site refineries, which produce gasoline.

Environmental Defense’s report highlights the environmental and human health effects of the Tar Sands. And, outlines what the federal government should do to clean it up.

  Download the full copy of Environmental Defence report:  Download


Griffiths Mary and Simon Dyer, "Fact sheet: Oil Sands Fever Strikes Edmonton," Upgrader Alley, Jun 16, 2008 Fact sheet

Griffiths Mary and Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, Report Oil sands watch | Taking the wheel

Hatch Christopher and Matt Price, "The most destructive project on earth," Environmental Defence, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February, 2008.  Alberta oil sands projectCanadian environmental defense

Koerner Brendan I. "The Trillion-Barrel Tar Pit," Wired, July 2004. Canada's tar sands

_____, "Misunderstood oil sands: REBRANDING ALBERTA" Globe and Mail, November 12, 2008. Alberta premier criticism

Severson-Baker Chris, Jennifer Grant , Simon Dyer, Taking the wheel," Oil sand, Aug 18, 2008. Report Oil sands watch

Wikipedia, "Alberta oil sands," Wikipedia. | Tar sands Alberta