Ottawa too slow planning oilsands disaster scenarios

'Royal Society's expert panel ... gives us direction,' minister says
Auteur: 
Kelly Cryderman
Source: 
Calgary Herald; Postmedia News
Date published: 
Wed, 2010-12-15

CALGARY - Government oversight isn't keeping step with rapid oilsands expansion, and assessments o f new projects haven't properly taken into account disaster scenarios or the overall impact to the environment, say Royal Society of Canada scientists.

There's a need for quicker land reclamation after bitumen has been taken out of the ground, the scientists say in a review of Alberta's oilsands by to be released Wednesday.

Better monitoring of underground water systems and a growing stock of tailings ponds as intense development continues, the report says.

"If we were to stop oilsands mining tomorrow, we would still have an issue that was going to be associated with water -- both from the tailings ponds and from the potential threats on groundwater -- for many decades to come," said University of Guelph professor Glen Van Der Kraak, who specializes in aquatic toxicology.

Another member of the panel, University of Alberta economics professor Andre Plourde, added that approved projects haven't seen adequate risk assessments of natural or technological disasters completed, something that could result in "a major spill coming out of a tailings pond, for example."

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