Alberta Legislature Gets Eyeful On Tar Sands

By Rainforest Action Network
Greenpeace, RAN & Sierra Club Make Statement On Toxic Tar Sands

Today I joined allies from Sierra Club Prairie and Greenpeace to transform the steps of the Provincial legislature in an attempt to give Albertans an idea of the amount of tailings, French tar sands giant Total, will create in Alberta if Total’s new mine site is approved. We woke up bright and early to set-up 60, 200 litre rain barrels which is what Total will dump into Alberta’s ecosystem every 30 seconds with this project.

Total recently applied for a permit to create another massive open pit mining project in Alberta along with a wet tailing permit. Even though Stelmach, our Premier, announced an end to wet tailings this year, we have seen 9 permits for wet tailings and 7 have already been approved. Our land and eco-systems can no longer handle the toxic contaminant.

The visual was set-up on the final day of the hearing process for French tar sands giant Total new tar sands mine. If approved Total’s Joslyn Mine would spew 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, release 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste, and remove and pollute up to 22 billion litres of fresh water from the Athabasca River each year, in addition to destroying 7,000 hectares of boreal forest — equivalent to 13,000 football fields. We obviously couldn’t possibly gather enough rain barrels to represent such an unfathomable number, we would have needed somewhere in the ball park of 60 MILLION barrels. 

It’s glaringly apparent that Total is not concerns with the compounding impacts tar sands development is having on the eco-system and the people that rely on them.  I can’t imagine anyone considering Total a company with strong corporate social responsiblity given the era of climate choas that we are currently living in at present.  This project is set to be place within one of the world’s last remaining watershed.

Just yesterday one of NASA’s top scientists, James Hansen told a panel reviewing the proposed tar sands mine in northern Alberta that the resource should simply be left in the ground.

In addition, yesterday in Hungary a reservoir containing toxic mining waste breached releasing 600,000-700,000 cubic metres of sludge creating a tidal wave riping through seven towns and villages. Such a spill is only a fraction of what is held in the massive tailings lakes we have here in Alberta. A major breach of any of the tailings would be catastrosphic. TOTAL doesn’t even have a contingency plan is such a thing were to happen.

Expert after expert, report after report, has detailed the impacts the tar sands are having on downstream communities and Alberta’s ecosystem. People are already getting sick we can’t approve another massive mine in this region. We need to deal with the toxic mess we have already created before we even consider adding to it. How can the Alberta government continue to grant permit after permit?  How can we continue to ignore the science, reports and evidence piling up?

It’s time we tell our banks, leaders, and fellow citizen to stop financing these dirty companies and support a moratorium on no new approval in the tar sands.