A study independent of industry or government input by the University of Alberta has found that pollution of the Athabasca River in Alberta by toxins is a direct result of oilsands production. This counters the findings of a joint industry and government panel, the Regional Aquatic Monitoring Program, that the toxins in the river were from natural sources.
The study contrasted Athabasca River samples from mining areas with water samples drawn from undeveloped sites close to the McMurray geological formation, which is the source of most of the oil. If the pollution was truly from natural sources, the levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel and thalium, among others, would have been just as bad at either sample site.
The study was headed by researchers from the University of Alberta and contributed to by Queen’s University and Oceana, a non-profit group that promotes water quality issues. The goal of the study was to test RAMP’s claims in a 2009 report that “”water quality was similar between [test] stations located within and outside oil sands development and when compared to conditions prior to development.” Based on the disparities found, the researchers would like Environment Canada to take over water quality monitoring in the area. Yeah, that may be a good idea.
And hey, if you feel like doing something about it and finding out more, we found another great anti-tar sands group: Tar Sands Watch, sponsored by the Polaris Institute. Very meaty stuff on that site.