Tar sands will pollute Great Lakes, report warns

Martin Mittelstaedt writes on page A4 of today’s Globe and Mail that, “The environmental impacts of Alberta’s oil sands will not be restricted to Western Canada, researchers say, but will extend thousands of kilometres away to the Great Lakes, threatening water and air quality around the world’s largest body of fresh water. In a new report (titled ‘How the Oil Sands Got To The Great Lakes Basin’), the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre (program on water issues) says the massive refinery expansions needed to process tar sands crude, and the new pipeline networks for transporting the fuel, amount to a ‘pollution delivery system’ connecting Alberta to the Great Lakes region of Canada and the U.S. It warns that the refineries will be using the Great Lakes ‘as a cheap supply’ source for their copious water needs and the area’s air ‘as a pollution dump.'”

The article continues, “The report, which is being released today…says that as many as 17 major refinery expansions around the lakes are being considered for turning the tar-like Alberta bitumen into gasoline and other petroleum products. While not all will be undertaken, enough of them will be to have a regional environmental impact…Most of the projected spending is on the U.S. side of the lakes. Only one major refinery project has been announced for the Canadian side, but that expansion, at a Shell refinery in Sarnia, was put on hold in July because of surging costs. However, two big Canadian companies, TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. with its Keystone project, and Enbridge Inc., with its Alberta Clipper project, are vying to build pipelines to bring crude from the tar sands to U.S. refineries around the lakes.”

The report itself says, “This expansion promises to bring with it an exponential increase in pollution, discharges into waterways including the Great Lakes, destruction of wetlands, toxic air emissions, acid rain, and huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The full article can be read at:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081008.wlakes08/BNStory/National/home
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