Few Canadians know that Canada is home to one of the world's largest dams and it is built to hold toxic waste from just one Tar Sands operation," Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence.
And according to the report this is just the beginning. Approvals have already been given that will double the size of existing operations and Canada's leaders have been talking with the US government to grow oil sands operations in a "short time span."
Even a former Premier of Alberta is concerned. Peter Lougheed who served as Premier from 1971 to 1985 was recently quoted on the oil sands as saying:
... it is just a moonscape. It is wrong in my judgment, a major wrong... So it is a major, major federal and provincial issue."
However, there is a silver lining in all this. A recent Canadian parliamentary committee recently stated that:
A business as usual approach to the development of the oil sands is not sustainable. The time has come to begin the transition to a clean energy future."
Here's a few facts about the Alberta Oil Sands:
Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.
- At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing in them.
- Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes in Canada.
- The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.
- Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.
- The oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada. By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in Canada.
A full copy of the Environmental Defence report is attached to the end of this post.