Friday, January 26, 2024

Alberta's oil sands polluting much more than reported

A joint study by Environment Canada and Yale University, recently published in the journal Science, suggests that Alberta's oilsands are much more polluting than the industry is reporting.

Using data from 30 airplane overflights, the study found that, while the industry was reporting about 68 million tonnes carbon dioxide emissions a year (about 10% of all Canadian emissions), the actual figure was closer to 100 million tonnes. Which just goes to show the folly of putting the fox in change of the hen-coop.

Even more worrying, though, is the massive release of "volatile organic compounds" from the oil sands operations. These highly-reactive and potentially hazardous carbon-based chemicals are being released into the atmosphere at 20 to 63 times higher rates than the official modelled estimates. These emissions are about equal to the entire output of such chemicals in the whole of the rest of Canada. Very little is known about what happens when these chemicals mix and react, or how they accumulate in the environment.

The study really demonstrates just how much we don't know about Alberta's oil sands operations. But what we DO know about it is enough to call for a shut-down.

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