The Canadian tar sands industry-government group Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program doesn't much like a recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that tar sands projects are responsible for elevated levels of water toxicity downstream from projects. RAMP's Fred Kuzmic maintains that any toxins found in the rivers are natural occurring:
We do find elevated levels of things in [our] study area. Those are generally associated with naturally occurring compounds. The Athabasca River and many of its tributaries in this particular region run through oil sands deposits. It's not surprising that we would see these elevated concentrations downstream from oil sands operations because oil sands operations are operating where these oil sands exist. (CBC)
Kuzmic, who heads a research an reclamation team of tar sands producer Shell Albian Sands, insists that the higher toxin levels are not related to human activity, saying "I think it's difficult to try and tease that out."
Except that in the peer-reviewed paper in PNAS, scientists from the University of Alberta did tease that out, finding that for areas where there were tar sands deposits water upstream and downstream did not show a difference in toxicity, but for areas where there was an active tar sands operation, pollution (mercury, cadmium, lead and the like) was higher downstream.
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More on Tar Sands:
Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth
National Geographic Slams Tar Sands - Canadian Politicians Pissed
Canadian Tar Sands Will Be US' Largest Imported Source in 2010: Ecologically Destructive & Immoral
Canadian Tar Sands Look Like Tolkein's Mordor Says UN Water Advisor