Leaking Legacy: Report

By Water Canada 12:23PM December 09, 2008



Read Later

Though Alberta’s government has proclaimed it false, a new report from issued by Environmental Defence claims that over four billion litres of contaminated tailings water enters the groundwater each year as a result of oil sands operations. New projects, it adds, could expand this number to over 25 billion litres within a decade.

The report, 11 Million Litres a Day: The Tar Sands’ Leaking Legacy, uses industry data to arrive at an estimate of tar sands tailings ponds leakage into the environment.

Four billion litres would fill the Toronto Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) two and a half times. 25 billion litres would fill it 16 times.

“This massive leakage from toxic tailings ponds are yet another reason why tar sands oil is dirty oil,” said Matt Price, program manager, Environmental Defence.

Tailings ponds are known to contain dozens of toxic contaminants like heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and naphthenic acids. Naphthenic acids in particular break down very slowly and therefore pose a long-term threat to the groundwater of the region. The tailings ponds sit upriver from the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest inland freshwater deltas and home to Fort Chipewyan where residents already have serious concerns about pollution and their health.

Tailings ponds are built on bare ground with walls made out of earthen materials. Companies deploy measures to capture some of the leakage from the ponds, but these measures are imperfect. Company applications for new projects admit that leakage is lost to the groundwater, and these applications were used to arrive at the overall leakage rate.

Suggested News Articles

National, NewsJul. 13, 2018
Read Later

B.C. Company Awarded $350K To Further Test Oxidation Technology

BI Pure Water has secured a $350,000 federal grant to develop a production version of its new advanced oxidation process (AOP), Biperliminate, for wastewater treatment. Now, the company is seeking…
National, NewsJul. 09, 2018
Read Later

Study Links Groundwater Nitrate Concentrations to Land Use Practices

What we do on the land surface can have a significant impact on groundwater below. Although nitrate contamination of groundwater used for drinking water is a growing health concern, very…
News, Western CanadaJul. 06, 2018
Read Later

B.C. Releases Contaminated Sites Remediation Report

British Columbia has released its 2018 report on the Crown Contaminated Sites Program (CCSP). The report was released on July 5th, 2018, and details work done over the past two…