Study Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects

November 10, 2007

High levels of carcinogens and toxic substances have been found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects. The Athabasca River, which flows past Fort McMurray feeds into Lake Athabasca. Fort Chipewyan, an aboriginal village of 1,400 on the northeast shore of Lake Athabasca is 260 kilometers (161 miles) north of Fort McMurray oil sands. Dr. Kevin Timoney, an ecologist with Treeline Environmental Research reported in a recent study that Fort Chipewyan water supply was safe but there were “high levels of arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fish, which many people in Fort Chipewyan, especially members of its Native community, rely on for a substantial portion of their diet (Austen 2007).” Nunee Health Authority’s director Donna Cyprien commissioned the report to investigate the threat of toxins on Mikasew Cree First Nation who live downstream from the Alberta oil sands projects. Residents were concerned about potential carcinogens found in tar and tarlike materials as there is visible oily residue in their drinking water.

“Timoney’s conclusions are in stark contrast to a government-funded study this year on cancer rates that found no elevated disease rates in connection with the Athabasca River (CBC 2007).”

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Notes

1. Thanks to this post for drawing my attention to inappropriate ads on this article.

2. This post was updated February 9, 2009 in response to more recent reports and dramatic changes brought on by the 2009 recession. Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental headliner that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not be worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Concerns about high levels of carcinogens and toxic substances found in fish, water and sediment in the Athabaska River downstream from Alberta’s huge oil sands projects (which are largely self-regulated see RAMP), have also earned international attention. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

I have developed this customized Google Map to follow relevant stories and reports that I have come across. It does not include the most relevant or recent information:

This Google map is provided by Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental self-monitoring program based on a self-regulation model and currently chaired by Suncor’s Patrick O’Brien.

Timeline

1997- Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) is “an industry-funded, multi-stakeholder environmental monitoring program initiated in 1997. The intent of RAMP is to integrate aquatic monitoring activities across different components of the aquatic environment, different geographical locations, and Athabasca oils sands and other developments in the Athabasca oil sands region so that long-term trends, regional issues and potential cumulative effects related to oil sands and other development can be identified and addressed (RAMP web site 2007).”

2008-04 Syncrude failed to properly deter about 500 ducks from landing on its massive toxic tailings pond, where nearly all of them died (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).

2007-11-09 ” Ian Austen reported in his articleStudy Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects” in the New York Times.

2009 Patrick O’Brien (Suncor) is the current Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) Steering Committee chairperson. The RAMP Steering Committee is the multi-stakeholder decision body of RAMP responsible for the management and implementation of the program.

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

2009-02-09 “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).” Negative international attention is focused on Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine through an environmental tragedy that culminated in charges against the company. Timing could not we worse, as Deputy Premier Ron Stevens was in Washington, D.C., marketing Alberta’s energy resources and environmental record to political and business leaders. Syncrude was charged under a section of Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act the Canadian government and under a section of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Acts for failing to prevent the deaths of 500 ducks covered in toxic sludge in April 2008 at their massive toxic tailings pond at their Syncrude’s Aurora North Site mine facility (D’ Aliesio 2009-02-09).”

Who’s Who?

Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP)

Kevin Timoney, Treeline Ecological Research, 21551 Twp Road 520, Sherwood Park, AB, T8E 1E3

Webliography and Bibliography

Adams, S. and Associates. 1998. Fort Chipewyan Way of Life Study. Stuart Adams and Associates. Vancouver, BC.

Austen, Ian. 2007. “Study Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects.” New York Times. November 7.

CBC. 2007-11-08. “Study contradicts earlier findings on N. Alberta water quality.”

Cooper, Dave. 2009-01-15. “Syncrude seeks deeper tailings pond.” Edmonton Journal.

D’ Aliesio, Renata. 2009-02-09. “Syncrude charged for duck deaths at tailings pond.” Calgary Herald.

Haggett, Scott. 2007. “Canadian village calls for end to oil sand projects.” Reuters. November 8.

Timoney, Kevin. 2003. “An Environmental Assessment of High Conservation Value Forests in the Alberta Portion of the Mid-Continental Canadian Boreal Forest Ecoregion.”

One Response to “Study Finds Carcinogens in Water Near Alberta Oil Sands Projects”


  1. […] Timoney has continued to show levels of arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at carcinogenic levels. Yet Health Canada and the Alberta cancer board have so far yet to undertake a promised cancer […]


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