Alberta Mirror

Friday, September 29, 2023

Forbidden for decades, freeing oilsands tailings water is soon on the extent

Key takeaways: 

  • Several Indigenous groups state they are puzzled about deciding between environmentally unsafe options.
  • Tailings flow into a pond at the Syncrude oilsands mine plant near Fort McMurray, Alta. on July 9, 2008. 
  • That year, several 1,600 ducks died in one of the firm’s deadly tailings lakes.

Oilsands tailings water will now be on the border: 

The federal government has started improving laws to enable oilsands workers in northern Alberta to start releasing treated tailings water back into the environment, something that’s been banned for decades.

Presently, firms must file any water used to remove oil during the mining method because it becomes lethal. The huge above-ground lakes are known as tailings lakes, which are toxic to wildlife and have occurred in the death of birds who arrive on the water, on various occasions.

For years, local Indigenous groups have increased concerns about pollution from development, and how tailings ponds could moreover pollute their land and drinking water.

But soon, industry leaders and several scientists are satisfied the water can be managed enough so it can be reliably discharged and they say it can decrease the environmental danger of collecting an ever-increasing volume of tailings.

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Oilsands tailing waters released after decades of ban

Something’s made to supply

For decades, oilsands firms have used freshwater to assist distribute the oil from the sand and other materials obtained in mines.

Across the years, the industry has developed its methods to recover more and more of the water it utilises. Still, mines require about three to four containers of new water to create one barrel of bitumen. 

After the water is utilised, it is collected in tailings ponds since the material includes several poisons, bitumen deposits and high levels of salt.

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