ALBERTA TAR SANDS - A WORSE ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER THAN THE BP GULF OIL DISASTER?
Last spring's BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico alerted us to the unforeseen hazards of deep water oil drilling. Since most of the remaining conventional sources of oil are located in politically unstable regions of the world, many political leaders are looking toward the reserves of oil locked in the abundant bitumen under the boreal forests of northern Alberta as our best source of oil. The Alberta government and the Canadian oil industry claim that these tar sands mining operations are being managed in an environmentally responsible manner. But a team of scientists from the University of Alberta at Edmonton and other colleges in Canada released a report that contradicts the government and industry claims. David Schindler, Peter Hodson and others analyzed 13 elements in river water and snow pack along the Athabasca River and its delta in a study that links tarsands development to deteriorating water quality in northeastern Alberta.
On this segment of Locus Focus we talk with scientist Peter Hodson about the findings of this study and how it calls into question claims that tar sands extraction is not harming the fragile environment of northern Alberta.
Dr. Peter Hodson is a professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and director of its School of Environmental Studies. He is a past president of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), and twice served on its Board of Directors, as well as the Board of the SETAC World Council, Chair of the World Council Science Committee, and an editor of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Hodson has authored more than 180 technical publications related to fish toxicology and environmental contamination. He is currently studying the mechanisms of hydrocarbon toxicity to early life stages of fish, the environmental impacts of crude oil, among other topics.