Federal study confirms oilsands tailings found in groundwater, river
The least surprising thing about this CP story on Environment Canada research indicating water from tarsands tailings ponds is leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River is the by now depressingly familiar way the lead Environment Canada scientist was muzzled from speaking about it.
First : News of the study, published here in the Environmental Science and Technology journal in January, followed up by a good outline of the study from the CP reporter.
Second, muzzling of the lead scientist by an Environment Canada media relations guy who nonetheless provides the reporter with an opinion of his own :
"Environment Canada said it was unable to provide an interview with the report's main author, Richard Frank.despite the study's published conclusion that :
In an email, department spokesman Danny Kingsberry downplayed its findings.
"These samples included two of upward flowing groundwater collected < 1 m beneath the Athabasca River, suggesting oil sands process-affected groundwater is reaching the river system."This is apparently what EC spokesy Danny Kingsberry does for a living.
Third : No problem however getting interview quotes from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that "the quality of water in the Athabasca River remains good" and
"While the research technique used in this study shows some potential, further detailed work is required to evaluate its accuracy and adequacy for tracking oil sands process water."All of which reminded me of that parliamentary Environment Committee that destroyed the results of its own 18 month study of the tarsands pollution and water three and a half years ago.
Dr. David Schindler, founding director of the Experimental Lakes Area project, had just testified about his own damning research into airborne tarsands contaminants found in the snow pack along the Athabasca River. He explained his project was "set up to examine the claim of industry and the Alberta government that no pollution from the oil sands industry gets into the Athabasca River."
He further offered his opinion that oil companies' reports on contaminants are duly submitted to Environment Canada but EC is being muzzled and prevented from making the findings public -- after which the Environment Committee went in camera for the next seven sessions before destroying their report to the public and agreeing to cease their study of the oil sands and Canada's water resources altogether.
Most of the members of that committee are still sitting in the House, including Justin Trudeau who I hear is giving quite a lot of interviews lately. Maybe some enterprising journo/accredited blogger could ask him wtf happened there.