Full-scale extraction and transport of the Canadian Tar sands would lead to a massive increase in the production of the nastiest, filthiest oil to be used as a energy source. The amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere by this fetid product could well lead us to the tipping point and beyond in our effort to save Human habitat on our planet.
But this dirty oil produces another, more immediate danger to human beings. From carcinogens to acid rain, tar sands development is raising levels of industrial pollution across the north, according to this article in today's Scientific American: http://www.scientificamerican.com/...
More over the fold.
The most immediate danger is to the people, the land, and the water in the vicinity of the mining, i.e., Northern Alberta. According to the article:
By measuring the toxic heavy metal pollution in snow, scientists have suggested that contamination exceeds background levels by as much as 120-fold and can be detected as far as 85 kilometers (which would constitute about a 53-mile radius) from industrial sites.But the problem is far worse than that. The problem is that many of the toxins produced i.e., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons like anthracene and napthalene, among others known to cause cancer and other health effects in animals and people are accumulating in the water.
I highly recommend reading the linked article, but here's the crux of the problem, the toxic brew being produced is falling into the Athabasca River:
The Athabasca River has carved bluffs in the Alberta landscape on the waters' way north to the Arctic Ocean. But these natural bluffs are more than matched by the man-made sand dikes built to hold back lakes-worth of tailings, the muck-laden water leftover after tar sands mining and treatment. Leaks of this muck, which contains a toxic stew of hydrocarbon residue, have always been a concern.This is not benign stuff folks. The oil and gas industry has scientists that make efforts to A) deny the severity and/or the causality of the problem, and B) try to "mitigate" the damage to the waterways and the water table, but this toxic brew is airborne, and once it's in the water, it's going to travel further.
"There is a risk if there was a leak into the river, it would be disastrous," notes chemical engineer Murray Gray, scientific director of the Center for Oil Sands Innovation at the University of Alberta. But "any release of tailings are disastrous for watersheds anywhere in the world."
The difference may be the scale. Such waste lakes now cover 176 square kilometers, holding more than 830 million cubic meters of residue with another roughly 250 million liters of the muck produced every day. Wells are drilled all along the man-made bluffs to detect ongoing seepage and, if detected, to pump out the contaminated water. "A small amount will get past that," admits Randall Barrett, northern region director for Alberta's Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) agency, though at a very slow rate, he adds.
And this is the stuff they'd like to transport through vulnerable areas of our nation, and then put into the air all over the world.
And we need to help it happen they tell us, because despite all the harm done to the People of this planet and the planet itself, the construction of the XL pipeline will provide a tremendous number of jobs (not true) here in the United States.
So, if you needed another reason to oppose this pipeline project, to fight against itr, here it is.