Oil sands study shows negative impact on lake systems

(Phys.org)—Fifty years of Athabasca oil sands development has left a legacy of contaminants in lake ecosystems and that contamination reaches further from the development areas than previously recognized, according to new research at Queen's University.

"Our research tells a consistent story of increased contaminants and ecological change that has occurred in the region since industrial development of bitumen resources began," says lead author Joshua Kurek, a postdoctoral fellow at Queen's University, Department of Biology. "Today our study lakes are very different compared to 50 years ago, and are on a path of unprecedented change."

The study illustrates that multiple environmental stressors, including local industrial activities and climate change, have affected the structure and function of for nearly half a century.

It reveals toxic substances that are also prominent components of Athabasca oil sands bitumen, have increased in lake sediments since oil sands development began in the late 1960s. Additionally, increased contaminant levels were observed from one lake ecosystem 90 kilometres northwest of the major development area.

Researchers used the archives preserved in to reconstruct past contaminant levels and ecological changes, since there is no direct monitoring data prior to the oil sands development. They found increasing amounts of (PAH) and dibenothiophenes (DBT), both toxins released through oil sands processing and mining operations.

"Given that oil sands development will undoubtedly increase, we are certain that these trends will accelerate, and increased development will likely impact ecosystems farther from the current ," notes Queen's biology professor John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change "Combined with the and other environmental stressors to aquatic ecosystems, these results are worrying."

This study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Other members of the research team include Research and Physical Scientists from Environment Canada's Aquatic Contaminants Research Division: Jane Kirk, Derek Muir, Xiaowa Wang and Marlene Evans.


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More information: "Legacy of a half century of Athabasca oil sands development recorded by lake ecosystems," by Joshua Kurek et al. dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1217675110
Provided by Queen's University
Citation: Oil sands study shows negative impact on lake systems (2013, January 7) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-01-oil-sands-negative-impact-lake.html
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Jan 07, 2013
And after all the big fat lies the eco-nuts have published in eco-nut reviewed journals about everything and anything, I will be just rushing to trust them on this latest nonsense.

Is this domestic lunacy or are the Russians and Qataris funding this "research" also.

Jan 07, 2013
And after all the big fat lies the eco-nuts have published in eco-nut reviewed journals about everything and anything, I will be just rushing to trust them on this latest nonsense.

Is this domestic lunacy or are the Russians and Qataris funding this "research" also.


It takes a real nut to accuse Qatar and Russia of fixing research done by the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences", an American journal. McCarthyism died a long time ago, your loony conspiracies should have died with it.

Jan 07, 2013
And after all the big fat lies the eco-nuts have published in eco-nut reviewed journals about everything and anything, I will be just rushing to trust them on this latest nonsense.

Is this domestic lunacy or are the Russians and Qataris funding this "research" also.

This is a science site, not a political site. People do research, and then their peers review the research and try to identify if it is accurate or not, according to the scientific method.

It's not a perfect system, but it has given us computer chips, space ships, nuclear fusion, gorilla glass, smartphones, etc, etc, etc.

This site merely reports the latest developments.

If you don't like the latest research - like this article that is almost sure to be mostly credible - Then get the FUCK off this site.

Jan 08, 2013
And in other news, breathing has been shown to have negative consequences for climate change. The eco-conscious are urged to refrain from exhaling.

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