Pollutants from Tar Sands Sites Comparable to Mid-Sized City, Study Says

The amounts of pollution produced by tar sands excavation sites are comparable to those of a medium-sized city or a large power plant, according to a new study by Environment Canada, the nation’s environmental agency.

Using satellite remote sensing observations, scientists found elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide across a 19-by-31-mile region of surface mining. In addition to corresponding to “locations of significant emissions from large mining operations,” the researchers found that pollution levels are increasing.

In the case of nitrogen dioxide, levels increased by about 10.4 percent annually between 2005 and 2010. “It stands out above what’s around it, out in the wilderness,” said Chris McLinden, a research scientist with Environment Canada and lead author of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The extraction of the sludgy bituminous materials from tar sands requires enormous amounts of energy, and therefore the burning of fossil fuels. In 2010, about 1.8 million barrels of oil were produced daily from Canada’s vast tar sands deposits.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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One comment on “Pollutants from Tar Sands Sites Comparable to Mid-Sized City, Study Says

Thomas Ziegler

Why are we paying higher prices for natural gas, while this same prodicf is used for heating water as part of the oil sands processing method? For many years you would and still see flaring in the oil fields across Alberta and now Saskatchewan. Flaring is a method of burning off natural gas you often get when drilling cor oil. Let’s put this same product into our homes and vehicles before we give it to large oil companies, at a subsidized rate. Our Canadian government is shaming canada as a whole and what’s more is, we don’t need the tsp sands now.

Thomas Ziegler

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