Study confirms untold levels of oil sands pollution on the Athabasca

After an exhaustive study of air and water pollution along the Athabasca River and its tributaries from Fort McMurray to Lake Athabasca, researchers say pollution levels have increased as a direct result of nearby oil sands operations.

University of Alberta biological sciences professor David Schindler was part of the team that conducted a long term air and water study and found high levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds. PACs are a group of organic contaminants containing several known carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens. The highest levels of PAC's were found within 50 kilometres of two major oil sands up graders.

Schindler says that government and industry have claimed the pollution is a naturally occurring seepage from the oil sands deposits and are not related to the oil sands industry.

The research team monitored water and snow packs concentrations of pollutants along the Athabasca in winter and summer of 2008. Schindler and the others report that levels of PACs increased the closer they got to the developments and reached a point
where the airborne particulates left oil slicks on top of melted snow.

"We found PACs in parts per trillion but they are toxic at parts per trillion," said Schindler.

The new study took measurements at 60 locations along the Athabasca and its tributaries. Schindler says that currently the Federal Government operates one quality collection point in the area.

More information: The research will be published in .

Source: University of Alberta (news : web)


Explore further

Using microbes for the quick clean up of dirty oil

Citation: Study confirms untold levels of oil sands pollution on the Athabasca (2009, December 7) retrieved 20 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-12-untold-oil-sands-pollution-athabasca.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 07, 2009
Oh, wow. Oil sand operations cause pollution. Who'd have thunk it! (*facepalm*)

Dec 07, 2009
Yeah- But it would NEVER happen if ANWAR and/or the North Slope were opened up for petroleum drilling, right?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more