Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) requires cumulative effects be determined before new projects can be approved, this if from the act itself: …the environmental effects of the project, including anycumulative environmental effects that are likely to result from the project in combination with other projects or activities that have been or will be carried out;
Alberta’s Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act49 d. a description of potential positive and negative environmental, social, economic and cultural impacts of the proposed activity including cumulative, regional, temporal and spatial considerations;
ERCB on Tar Sands ApprovalsNo oil sands project in Alberta may proceed without anassessment of cumulative effects;Alberta relies on the best information and science availableto predict the impacts and cumulative effects of a proposedindustrial activity on the surrounding environment. Thisprovides the foundation to decide whether the activityshould proceed, and under what conditions.
What it means Managing cumulative effects meansadditional industrial use is allowed only ifthe environment is not being harmed. To do this excellent monitoring must be in place long enough to determine whatconditions were in the past and what they are now.
Government and Industry have insisted that no harmfuleffects have been identified. Any existing pollution is natural, caused by the river running through bitumen deposits.
First Indications of Problems Aboriginal people in the region indicated water and wildlife quality and quantity problemsexist and are affecting their treaty rights.
Problems With Reclamation Wetlands cannot be reclaimed; Forest ecosystems are too complex and poorly understood to simply put all the pieces back together; Soil problems: unstable; salt; Cost and time and accountability.
Problems with Tailings*Tailings ponds leak their toxins tosurrounding areas and ground water.*Unlined end pit lakes are to bepermanent features on the landscape inwhich toxic liquid tailings will be stored. It is hoped that capping this with freshwater will result in a relatively naturallake ecosystem where people can swim,fish and boat!
Water use lowers the water table and dries out lakes, ponds and rivers
Air PollutionToxins from burning fossil fuelscontaminate the air and fall to the land andwater.Alberta’s air quality standards allowsignificantly more pollution than theEuropean Union, U.S. EnvironmentalProtection Agency and World HealthOrganization.
Problem Increases over time of some ofsome extremely toxic substances such as arsenic, mercury, naphthenic acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH, PAC) have been found in water and sediments.
Ecological Effects: Caribou 100 95 Caribou herds in the tar 90 sands area are in steep decline in spite of decadesPopulation Change % 85 80 of government planning 75 and commitments to 70 protect their habitat to 65 prevent their decline. 60 55 50 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 Year East Side Athabasca Caribou
Leaking pipes and tailings ponds can pollute ground water
Keeper’s Recommendation Pause, stop, delay, no more new tar sands projects until the cumulativeeffects are known and it is determined the environment is safe. A moratorium on new projects.
Reasons for Hope•Some of the damage can be reduced overtime, such as mercury and other toxicsubstances.•There are still some pretty good areasleft that if protected from industry wouldbenefit wildlife and traditional use.•In some cases better technology doesexist and could be adopted.
Reasons for Hope•The world is becomingincreasingly aware of the tar sandsand its destructive practices.•Aboriginal communities andenvironmental groups arebecoming more active on thisissue.