Right to Water

Report concludes oilsands pollution monitoring is inadequate

CALGARY — A new government-commissioned report examining conflicting water quality data from the oilsands says the current monitoring system is inadequate and that environmental impacts from industrial development in the region are largely unknown.

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner appointed the six-member water monitoring data review committee last fall to try to resolve the conflicting water quality information found between government scientists and University of Alberta ecologist David Schindler and his colleagues.

Schindler's reports argue the oilsands industry is contaminating the environment, while the province and the industry funded Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) have insisted their science does not support his conclusions.... Read more »

Oil sands leaking contaminants into Alberta watersheds

A scientific panel has backed research that indicates oil sands development is releasing contaminants into northern Alberta watersheds.

The panel also concludes that government monitoring programs weren’t even trying to determine if the industry was polluting the Athabasca River.

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said the results from the panel’s review will be used in an ongoing redesign of how the province keeps track of industry’s impact on land and water.

But one of the University of Alberta scientists whose study led to the panel said it’s probably already too late to get a true picture of how energy development has affected the region.

“It’s nearly impossible at this point,” David Schindler said Wednesday after the panel’s findings were released by the Environment Department.... Read more »

FRACK ATTACK

A groundswell of support is rising from environmental groups in southern Alberta, who are calling for a moratorium against fracking on the Blood Reserve.

Tom Cain, of Greensence in Lethbridge, said Friday the unprecedented collaboration comes from mutual concern for the health of the water, which becomes Lethbridge drinking water after it leaves the reserve.
Cain said Bonnie May of the Council of Canadians has been door-knocking with a petition aimed at Environment Minister Rob Renner (and others), and has met with a high level of support.

"Citizens of Lethbridge, if they're given some information, are willing to support people on the reserve," said Cain.

"And she's finding eight out of 10 people at the door are saying they want to sign the petition.

"That's a high percentage."... Read more »

Fluoride fighters inspired

Calgary’s decision to remove fluoride from its drinking water is giving some teeth to anti-fluoride supporters in Red Deer.

Residents who are opposed to the cavity-fighting chemical being added to Red Deer’s water supply are hailing a recent decision by Calgary elected leaders, who voted 10-3 in favour of eliminating it.

The decision in Alberta’s largest city is monumental, according to fluoridation opponent Craig MacKenzie of Red Deer.

“Doesn’t that tell you something?” he said on Monday. “This is tremendous news for Calgary. What a blessing it is for them.”

Ald. Druh Farrell of Calgary spearheaded the effort to eliminate the fluoride because she said it was a matter of ethics.

Red Deer city Councillor Paul Harris agrees.... Read more »

Province vulnerable to oilsands lease lawsuits

The Alberta government is failing in its constitutional duty to properly notify First Nations of oilsands leases on their traditional lands -a practice that could lead to a Supreme Court challenge, says a University of Calgary aboriginal law expert.

Nigel Bankes, who is also the university's chair of Natural Resources Law, said the government's policy of simply posting lease sales online and not going to First Nations directly doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

"I'd say the province isn't doing a good job," Bankes said. "Particularly when it comes to granting oilsands rights, because they basically say, 'We can fulfil our duty simply by posting stuff on our website.' I don't think that's real consultation."

The issue is a part of a number of cases being brought to Alberta's courts by Athabasca River aboriginal communities who are fighting the pace of oilsands development.... Read more »

            

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