From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265



“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”


Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Northwest Territories’ Environment Minister says toxins from a massive coal mine spill in Alberta are making their way north. On Oct. 31, Sherritt International's Obed Mountain coal mine spilled about 1 billion litres of contaminated water into the Athabasca River. The mine is no longer operating. The spill happened when a retaining wall collapsed, unleashing the equivalent of about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of contaminated water. The Alberta government says the contaminated water is now making its way through the Athabasca River and the Peace River. It should reach the Slave River and Great Slave Lake close to the beginning of December. MIltenberger says he wasn’t informed of the spill of toxic water until Nov. 4, four days after it happened.“We are going to keep doing monitoring as it makes its way north,” Miltenberger said. “This is the first coal mine spill of this magnitude. A huge amount of water filled with these waste substances... In my recollection, this is the first of this type of catastrophic failure.”---------------“We are not surprised to learn of the toxic nature of coal tailings spills,” says environmental lawyer and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. “The lack of reporting outlines our disappointment with how government and industry handled this major spill. We now expect the full force of the law will be brought to bear on the polluter to ensure our waters and communities are protected.”--------------Jule Asterisk, a director of the Keepers of the Athabasca, said: “It is unbelievable in this day and age, with the known pressures of growth requiring constant vigilance and monitoring, that a containment pond was allowed to fail so dramatically. The Obed coal mine was ’suspended’ just last year for remediation. In any closure/suspension/remediation plan, there is an inspection schedule for the facility. Where were the inspectors? Both Sherritt International and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development have failed their due diligence in this case. The pond had a complete failure. One billion litres was allowed to blast 25 kilometres through trout streams to the Athabasca River before anyone noticed? Now, after being told the release was non-toxic, we are finding out differently. The government of Alberta and that of Canada now has another black eye in international opinion. Have we become a developing country that has no control of our environmental protection? Environmental care is not just about shutting down facilities, environmental care is about keeping people and our environment safe, one of the main reasons governments exist. From now on, we must have careful monitoring and full disclosure of industrial hazards.”--------When provided with the table of these pollutants, Dr. Greg Goss, an environmental toxicology professor and researcher at the University of Alberta, said: “The coal slurry spill will be devastating to streams in the area for a long time. I am outraged that we have heard nothing from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). They are responsible for enforcing the Fisheries Act. Despite the recently stripped down Fisheries Act, this is a clear situation where the act still applies and we should expect a response from the DFO. There are cut-throat trout and native bull trout in the streams that were impacted by the spill. These are species that fall under the new recreational, commercial and aboriginal interest designation of the Fisheries Act.”---------------Percy 9 days ago 0 2 I think we should make the Sherritt Internationale CEO's drink some of that water and live there for awhile and see how clean and safe they think it is.--------Ron 10 days ago 0 4 We need to talk a little louder to both Provincial Government & Federal Government, who removed policy protecting fresh water in an Omnibus bill. What has been happening is the removal of anything that stands in the way of public awareness, silence the scientist, propaganda , paid for by your own tax dollars to bolster the push on resources, Why is it that people can't see through that thin veil of deceit, driven by greed. The most valuable asset, we have on Earth. is in peril. And we are expected to stand by and let it happen, what???? We need to rethink what really is value in all our lives folks. If I have to be referred to as a radical for wanting a clean earth for my children , then so be it. More Reply------

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/alberta-brunswick-waterways-tainted-huge-coal-dust-toxic-204814853.html

Percy 9 days ago
0 
2 
I think we should make the Sherritt Internationale CEO's drink some of that water and live there for awhile and see how clean and safe they think it is.

http://www.outdoorsmenforum.ca/showthread.php?p=2197420
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  #1  
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does anybody know anything about a major enviromental issue happening right now at obed mines near hinton not saying just asking
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Berm on a tailings pond failed. Released a load of tailings into Apetowun Creek and the Athabasca River.
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Great. These mines are terrible polluters. If it's not something like this it's their junk equipment continually blowing hydraulic lines and rad hoses and leaking thousands and thousands of liters of hydraulic oil or coolant into waterways.
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Doesn't involve oil, so it's not a big deal. 

Grizz
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Apetown Creek.

Those poor little Athabows.

I hope they are laying low in the big river for the winter.
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I'll be surprised if this mess even makes the news. Even more surprised if charges are laid. Maybe Trout Unlimited should raise a stink.
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I think a phone call to the regional fisheries biologist in Edson is required.
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or Fisheries and Oceans

or The RCMP

or Dept of Environment

or ......


Don
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Alberta Energy Regulator responding to Obed Mountain Coal Mine Process Water Containment Failure
For immediate release

Calgary, Alberta (Nov 01, 2013)…

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has been notified by Obed Mountain Coal Ltd. that a pit containing coal process and surface water failed at approximately 6:30 PM on October 31, releasing a large quantity of the process water into the Athabasca River via two tributaries. The mine is located approximately 30 kilometres east of Hinton, Alberta.

There were no injuries as a result of this incident. All other appropriate agencies have been notified, including Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. The AER is investigating this incident to determine if the company was in compliance with AER requirements.

The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This will include allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FOR BROADCAST USE
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is responding to a pit containment failure at the Obed Mountain Coal Mine, 30 km east of Hinton. The AER is investigating this incident to determine if the company was in compliance with AER requirements.
– 30 –

For more information, please contact:

Darin Barter
Phone: 403-681-0946
E-mail: darin.barter@aer.ca
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i knew something was up where there is smoke there usually is fire i m so much more excited about the proposed new coalspurmine just south of hinton deemed to be northamericas largest but don't worry they are so safe and environmentally consciencious
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Yeah, instead of going after pipelines, the enviro's should take a look at the mines.
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We drove over Plante creek yesterday afternoon. It was running at spring runoff levels and was so dark you couldn't see through the water for millimeter it was so thick with contamination, and had a definite odour to it. We carried on to the Athabasca and it was like chocolate milk, couldn't see through that water as well. Looked pretty bad to me.
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And Plante Creek is toast too?
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maybe this could serve as a wake up call.... there are more than a few 600 hectare ponds near the athabasca and its tributaries that are alot more toxic than coal process water.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 79ford View Post
maybe this could serve as a wake up call.... there are more than a few 600 hectare ponds near the athabasca and its tributaries that are alot more toxic than coal process water.
Why don't you tell us where they are before making accusations.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdub View Post
We drove over Plante creek yesterday afternoon. It was running at spring runoff levels and was so dark you couldn't see through the water for millimeter it was so thick with contamination, and had a definite odour to it. We carried on to the Athabasca and it was like chocolate milk, couldn't see through that water as well. Looked pretty bad to me.
any pictures?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymountaintrapper View Post
any pictures?
I took one picture of the creek, should have taken a few more. Not sure if you can really get a good idea from the picture or not.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdub View Post
I took one picture of the creek, should have taken a few more. Not sure if you can really get a good idea from the picture or not.
thanks i will try and go out today to see how it loos like ,now that snow probably prettied everything up
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Any update on this from any local members?

Media is reporting this could be the second largest spill ever in North America. Company seems awful quiet about it. Where are the aerial pictures?
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I work for a pulp mill that draws mill water from the Athabasca. All the company has said is it will stop putting out potable water until the mass moves past the mill. I guess there is some heavy sediment that won't separate out of the water, even with the heavy filtration the mill has. There was talk about maybe having to shut the mill down for a couple days, but that died quickly. I know of at least one other mill on the Athabasca that had to shut down from fear of plugging their intakes up.
There was a note that went out to the town of Athabasca that says don't drink the water for a couple days, and it's been all over the radio. People know about it up here, nobody seems to think it is dangerous.
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I think there's some pretty trusting people on here. 2 weeks in, and Environment hasn't released any data and the company hasn't even bothered to put out a press release.

Edmonton Journal seems to be the only outlet still tracking this:

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Simon...015/story.html

EDMONTON - Mercury levels nine times higher than normal.

Levels of cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons four times the allowed standard for Canadian drinking water.

Those are the kinds of disturbing test results Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is seeing as he monitors a huge plume of coal mine waste water currently oozing down the Athabasca River.

“Our overriding concern is the safety of the drinking water,” says Talbot. “We’re advising people, ‘Don’t draw water as the plume is going by.’ ”

On Oct. 31, an estimated one billion litres of waste water leaked out of a containment pit at the old Obed Mountain coal mine, some 30 kilometres east of Hinton. The mine, owned by Sherritt International, has been non-operational since 2012.

The sediment suspension is now more than 100 km long, and moving at a pace of just under five kilometres per hour. By Wednesday, it was 10 km past the town of Athabasca, on its inexorable way toward Wood Buffalo National Park. Alberta Environment says nothing can be done to clean it up, or stop its progress.

Environment Minister Diana McQueen says her department has been conducting regular tests of the water. But McQueen says the ministry intends to keep all the results confidential, at least for now.

“They will be made public after the investigation is over.”

Still, McQueen insists people shouldn’t worry.

“There are no public health concerns with the water,” says McQueen. “Albertans can feel very confident that we are on top of this situation. We have very strict environmental standards in this province, and they’re all being followed.”

Talbot, thank goodness, is less coy about the data.

The province’s chief public health official was notified of the spill on the afternoon of Friday, Nov 1.

While about the 30 per cent of the plume is made up of relatively inert solids, including coal particulates, and clay, shale and sandstone deposits, Talbot also asked Alberta Environment to test the waste water for heavy metals, including mercury, lead and selenium, as well as potential carcinogens, including benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Talbot says water in the immediate vicinity of the plume had high levels of some of those pollutants.

The Canadian drinking water standard for benzo (a) pyrene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and suspected carcinogen, which has been linked to elevated rates of skin cancers and reproductive disorders, is 0.01 micrograms per litre.

According to Talbot’s data, at peak, the river water near the plume had levels of benzo (a) pyrene that were approximately four times that of the allowable drinking water standard.

Mercury levels in the water near the plume, according to the data, were nine times higher than baseline measures for the river. However, Talbot stresses that as high as the mercury levels were, they were still within allowable limits for human consumption.

The good news, he says, is that water treatment plants were given enough notice by Alberta Health Services that none actually drew any of the polluted water from the river. As well, he says, as the mass of waste flows down river, the water behind has largely returned to normal.

For example, Talbot’s test results show that levels of benzo (a) pyrene in the water behind the plume are now at or below the Canadian drinking water standard.

Over the winter, Talbot says, the hydrocarbons in the river should dissipate or be broken down naturally by bacteria. He is more concerned about the long-term effects of heavy metals, such as mercury, which stay in the environment.

In the spring, Talbot says the province will need to test the mercury levels of fish in the Athabasca, to determine a safe level of human consumption.

Talbot’s straightforward analysis is both refreshing and reassuring. And it just underlines how clumsily the Environment Department, with its secrecy and evasion, has handled this file.

Alberta desperately needs to burnish its environmental reputation on the international stage. So why does our government persist in handling environmental accidents in this amateurish, defensive way?

If we want a social licence to develop our carbon resources, from coal to oilsands, we have to start managing environmental crises professionally and transparently, giving the public and the world accurate information, instead of offering empty, even false, assurances that everything is just fine.

With luck, the Athabasca River ecosystem will eventually recover from this murky mess. Alberta’s reputation for environmental stewardship? That may be a different story.
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This is going on in BC at the moment .....anti mining will be all over
Our dilemma ....


http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11...n_4187272.html
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Question Obed Mine update

http://ecowatch.com/2013/11/08/canad...-slurry-spill/

Currently workers are working to "repair the breach" with heavy equipment. Hope the workers are being careful. Toxicity from Arsenic - Mercury - Chromium are within the mix. Have the workers been advised as to what it is they are actually working on and with?? Occupational Health and Safety may or may not be watching and testing.

Seems like another "shoot - shovel - shut-up" event that is effecting fish, wildlife - plants on its way to the Arctic Ocean.
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It's a good thing the provincial government hold both private citizens and big business to the same level of responsibility.
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Red face Obed Mine spill has people asking questions.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/healt...034/story.html

Who is telling the Moose - Fish - Deer - Coyotes - Wolves - Otters - Beavers not to drink the water - also contained arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and manganese and other flavoring.



https://www.facebook.com/KeepersOfTheAthabasca

Last edited by holycow; 9 Hours Ago at 02:38 PM. Reason: needing to add documented metals list.

**********************************************************************
This is a group of ordinary citizens asking questions in a public space--most of them anonymously.

There are good reasons for commenting and talking anonymously in Alberta about environmental problems.

For one thing the elected representatives in government at all levels think we are Communists when we speak out against the Alberta Advantage that ensures that companies in Alberta get away with major environmental disasters of the CNRL and the Obed Mountain mine sort and folks get poisoned drinking water.

This is a failure in their comprehension of the situation.
Most ordinary citizens don't know much about pollution and drinking water but we do understand that a billion litres of coal slurry into the major waterway in Alberta--is a problem.
We are not fooled by the stance of the Tories and their Tory faithful plus the industry spokespeople and the AER telling us everything is just peachy.

It isn't just peachy.
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/alberta-brunswick-waterways-tainted-huge-coal-dust-toxic-204814853.html

Alberta, New Brunswick waterways tainted with huge coal dust and toxic chemical spills

By Steve MertlNovember 5, 2013 3:48 PMDaily Brew


.
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Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station in New Brunswick is being strengthened against possible ear …
Albertans must be feeling under siege from the very resources that have made the province prosperous.
Residents living near the Athabasca River near Hinton, Alta., are being warned not to drink the water after a coal-mine waste-containment pond failed on Halloween night.
The breach at the closed Obed Mountain Coal Ltd. operation, 30 kilometres east of Hinton, leaked a billion litres of coal dust-laced water into the Athabasca via two tributaries, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator's news release.
That's the equivalent of about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The incident follows a a series of pipeline breaks and train derailments that have resulted in oil spills and an explosion involving propane-laden tank cars.
Residents of 10 communities downstream from the coal-waste spill have been warned not to draw water from the river or allow their livestock to drink from it, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Most get their drinking water from wells, though the city of Fort McMurray, the town of Athabasca and the hamlet of Smith, draw directly from the river, the Journal said.
The mine, owned by Sherritt International, is undergoing reclamation. A Sherritt employee told the Journal the material in the pit is inert and not dangerous to people or wildlife.
Nonetheless, Athabasca Mayor Roger Morrill told the Journal the town has shut off its water supply from the river.
Initial tests do not show the spill poses any health risk, Alberta Environment said, according to the Journal.
Still, critics were quick to jump on the government for not warning residents until several days after the breach was detected.
“I think government’s response is more proof that it can’t be trusted to act in the public’s best interest,” NDP environment critic Rachel Notley said, according to the Journal.
Why, with a billion-litre spill, was there a delay here? This is gargantuan, and these are not organic compounds. Coal waste includes a number of toxic compounds. [Government’s] handling of this is grossly irresponsible.”
Wildrose party critic Joe Anglin said the incident was preventable and inexcusable.
“We are seeing a real negative trend when it comes to train derailments and leaks, whether from pipelines or containment facilities," he said. "It shouldn’t happen if there is regular maintenance and monitoring.
“The company will take the blame, but where was the government oversight? This thing didn’t just break overnight. We should have seen it coming.”
The regulator said mines are inspected once a year or more often if there are problems, calling such breaches very rare.
Meanwhile, residents living near a New Brunswick's only nuclear power plant were warned about a spill of contaminated water into the Bay of Fundy.
NB Power's Point Lepreau power station released water containing toxic hydrazine from a valve on the non-nuclear of the plant on Sunday, CBC News reported. The chemical is used to remove oxygen from the water in steam generators to protect them from corrosion.
NB Power said in a news release Monday that the spill was detected through daily monitoring at a sampling point on station property. Further testing showed the chemical had dissipated below detectable levels, the company said.
"NB Power will continue to monitor the area and take additional samples," Claire Harris the plant's manager of health, safety and environment, said. "Following a thorough investigation, NB Power will determine the appropriate measures to implement and prevent recurrence."
CBC News noted the Point Lepreau plant had a hydrazine spill two years ago, when 23 barrels of water containing the chemical spilled into the bay. The federal Nuclear Safety Commission called that spill "unsettling."

86 Comments


Percy
 9 days ago

0 
2 

I think we should make the Sherritt Internationale CEO's drink some of that water and live there for awhile and see how clean and safe they think it is.
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Ron 10 days ago
0
4
We need to talk a little louder to both Provincial Government & Federal Government, who removed policy protecting fresh water in an Omnibus bill. What has been happening is the removal of anything that stands in the way of public awareness, silence the scientist, propaganda , paid for by your own tax dollars to bolster the push on resources, Why is it that people can't see through that thin veil of deceit, driven by greed. The most valuable asset, we have on Earth. is in peril. And we are expected to stand by and let it happen, what???? We need to rethink what really is value in all our lives folks. If I have to be referred to as a radical for wanting a clean earth for my children , then so be it.
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Sue 9 days ago
0
0
Government is no longer the issue,it's the corporations they front for that we have to hold accountable.Canada is a corporation , each province is a corp as well. Corporations have a board of directors. Free countries have elected reps. We are no longer a soveriegn nation.Wake up and smell the scam.
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spike51 10 days ago
0
1
Alberta is a conservative stronghold that essentially allows industries to self-regulate. Don't expect much of a penalty for those responsible.
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Adam M 10 days ago
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3
lol good stuff, AV Nackawic pulp mill in New Brunswick pours 20 million gallons of untreated water into the St.john river every day, but because the sludge ponds are in control of the government nothing is ever said. they say the water is clean and you can drink it, well i can tell you for a fact that it smells like #$%$ and looks like coffee.
kafeennite 10 days ago
1
6
Please lets not get excited about little environmental problems like this - after all Mr. Harper has assured us that these are unimportant compared to building a strong economy and increasing corporate problems.
And if a few (thousand) more people get cancer - well that is good for the economy too - it creates jobs in the medical industry.
Just ask Mr. Harper - its a win-win
(Or maybe not for the rest of us)
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Vanessa 11 days ago
2
18
Canadians should stand-up to the government in demanding stricter guidelines for all resource companies operating in Canada. Guidelines that are pro-active.

There should be independent lab tests of the waters and soil near to the plant that would be covered by an annual eco-type tax to resource companies. If contamination detected then there should be fines.

keith 10 days ago
1
3
Hinton is all chemicals...
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  • b_glennie 10 days ago
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  • There is a lake of toxic residue from Tar Sands production at Fort McMurray very close to Athabasca River, just waiting for a flood to take it down the river . It will destroy the river and parts of the Arctic Ocean.
  • I keep seeing commercials from energy companies saying they have the technology to clean it up, but it would mean losing 1% of their profits, so of course they won't do it.
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  • Shawn 11 days ago
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  • 18
  • Harper and make the rich richer program attacked the Canada Water Act, so things like this can happen. About a year ago ironicly. Tar Sands need more Water.
  • C-45 includes changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that limit federal protection for waterways to only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans that are specifically included in a list annexed to the bill. The government says it has chosen to protect only the busiest waterways in Canada that meet specific criteria for navigation.
  • Everything else is open to exploitation. Not protecting what you can't see insures you will never know you lost anything. No matter how great the loss.
  • Collapse Replies (3) Reply
    • badbillybrookes 11 days ago
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    • Oh you will know all right.....at the cemetery.
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    • Smells like 10 days ago
    • 0
    • 1
    • C-45 didn't just stop the protection. It was a jurisdiction transfer of power away from the feds to the municipal and Provincial court level. Big waterways are still protected by big government federal courts, small waterways are now handled by small government courts.
    • Don't let that scare you, let it free you. Locals can decide the fate of their local lakes.
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    • Kris 10 days ago
    • 0
    • 0
    • but locals don't care about their waterways. so much for saving our water
brady 11 days ago
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funny,and we make fun of india and china.seems were having our fair share of "accidents" lately.but as usual god forbid anyone contradicts the energy companies.any accountability?
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  • brady 10 days ago
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  • bring on the thumbs down oilpatch
Desperado Kid 10 days ago
1
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Canadians will never realise , These Alberta Oil sands are American run , supplied , and owned !!!!! Its cheaper for the American oil machine to destroy Canada's natural resources / $$$Canadian Economy/ Toooooooo Late/ Halliburton owns you NOW
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**********************************************************************

The comments from citizens indicate that some of these folks recognize that this isn't a minor problem and what the government told us was impossible---a breach in a containment pond --for industry--is in fact possible.

I have also been told that the tailings ponds will be safe as well.
But based on this containment pond failure --I highly doubt that this is the case.
We can look forward to more years of trouble.

And this trouble seems to be ignored by most ordinary Albertans.
Although some of us do recognize that this incident with Obed Mountain Coal Ltd. is a major environmental disaster, most folks in Alberta seem to be shrugging this off as just the price of doing business in Alberta.

It is surprising to me that Albertans will accept this sort of price for the so called Alberta Advantage that we hear so much of courtesy of small town mayors, reeves, city mayors and Tory politicians that allows the resource sector to obtain massive profits while the citizens who own the resources are stuck with minor returns.

It would make more sense to simply give away our resources by selling them all off rather than pretending to lease out the bitumen and resource rental properties. We then would not have to pretend that we have any resources (because in reality we--the people and our kids--do not have any resources). Other folks from the USA, Norway and China do have our resources courtesy of the lease agreements with the government of Alberta--but I can say we don't have any resources because the exploitation is entirely in favor of the folks who buy our leases and pay us  minuscule  royalty payments.

In return for their lousy payments we get this sort of self regulation of the resource industry that is laughable, no sort of penalties and repeated incidents that Synergy groups, the government of Alberta, the federal government of Canada, municipal leaders, the AER and industry join together to tell us --are all harmless. But just don't let your livestock drink the water.


In this particular case we have heard a great deal of soothing talk that was entirely lies.
This case of incident management was similar to this set of articles that was to deflate concerns of carcinogens in the coal slurry contained in the pond that somehow miraculously released a billion liters of toxins into the Athabasca River.

http://www.popbuzz.me/ca/p/2436906/

Alberta Coal Mine Spills Contaminated Waters Into River - Bloomberg


Categories: Business
Residents along the Athabasca River, which flows through the oil sands region of Alberta, are being advised to avoid drinking from the waterway after contaminated fluids were released from a coal mine storage pond. The warning was issued after an ...
1 week ago



Let us have a look at some of the spin articles we were fed by the government of Alberta and the company in question.




Sediment released into Athabasca River; Town of Athabasca takes precaution

Sediment released into river near Hinton from decommissioned mine pond

Nov 05, 2013 09:15 am | By Bromley Chamberlain | The Athabasca Advocate
Sediment has been released into the Athabasca River from a decommissioned mine near Hinton, and the Town of Athabasca is taking precautionary measures, although Athabasca was not on the list of communities notified.
Whitecourt, Hinton, Yellowhead County, Woodland County and the Municipal District of Greenview were made aware of the incident.
“The sediment was released from an onsite water storage pond,” the Alberta Government said in a press release. “The pond contains high levels of suspended solids, which include such things as clay and organic matter.”
The government is monitoring the river for the sediment that was released.
“Municipal drinking water systems are designed to filter materials out of water,” the government stated. “Government staff continue to monitor the release and are conducting water quality sampling in the river. These results will be shared with Alberta Health Services and other agencies; results will also be made public as soon as possible.”
Future work will also determine what, if any environmental impacts have occurred.
“In response, the Aspen Regional Water Services Commission (ARWSC) took the precautionary measure of closing the intake from the Athabasca River until the matter is expected to pass the area,” the Town of Athabasca said in a press release. “The water commission has a storage cell on site with capacity up to 30 days, therefore allowing no change in water quality or safety provided to consumers in the region.”
The ARWSC, Town of Athabasca and Athabasca County are monitoring the situation.
“They will provide further updates should there be any change in status, or as new information becomes available,” the release stated.
********************************************************************



In this local newspaper we got the usual talk from Alberta Environment that the stuff in the river was simply dirt and organic matter--sediment that simply adds to the levels of solids in the water.



This commentary sounds innocuous to us because we all know what sediment is because it is the stuff at the bottom of a lake and we aren't afraid to think of it in our drinking water --because --yes indeed municipal drinking water systems will filter this soil and organic crap out.  Our thinking brains now shut off.


That is if we are trusting brainwashed citizens of the sort that I used to be.


Now I look deeper into any sort of comments made by the elected hires because I have learned that whatever they say--tends to be the diagrammatically opposite state of  what is actually present.  The reality  of the story ---is often the other side of the coin we are handed.


I go look further into this story and I find out that the only problem with this story----  is that the government of Alberta knew very well that the pond did not have just the sediment. So that is the main problem of this story above. And then the small matter, of them knowing there were toxic substances in the water and then delaying the release of this information to the public seems to be another problem with the story.


How late were they in releasing warnings to the folks downstream from this incident?




Coal mine spill warning for Alexander

Keep cows out of Athabasca, says province

By: Kevin Ma
 |  Posted: Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 06:00 am
Comments    |   
Print    |   
A A


Alexander residents should use caution around the Athabasca River this month after a billion litres of contaminated water from a coal mine pond spilled into it.
Alberta Environment and the Alberta Energy Regulator reported earlier this month that about a billion litres of contaminated water had spilled from the Obed Mountain coal mine about 30 kilometres east of Hinton into two tributaries leading to the Athabasca River.
Alexander First Nation residents have been warned not to draw water from the river or water their cattle in it until further notice as a result.
While the bulk of Alexander is just outside the Athabasca watershed, the band’s lands near Fox Creek are within the river’s influence.
The spill happened at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 when part of a retaining berm around a large coal mine containment pond collapsed, said Darin Barter, spokesperson for the Alberta Energy Regulator. “It’s still open,” he said, speaking on Monday, “but the flow from that pond has stopped.”
About a billion litres of water containing rock, clay, mud, shale and coal fines escaped the pond, said Paula Myson, spokesperson for mine owner Sherritt International. The water flowed into the mine’s main pond and, when that overflowed, into a spillway leading to the Athabasca. There were no injuries from the release. Sherritt has not mined at the site since late last year.
A billion litres is enough to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools or to cover Legal in a little more than a foot of water.
The spill created a large, dark plume of water that passed by Alexander on Tuesday, said Jessica Potter, spokesperson for Alberta Environment. “It’s mud, essentially.”
The province alerted 10 downstream communities of the spill, including Alexander First Nation.
“Initial tests indicate that the water is not health-hazardous,” Potter said, but the province has nonetheless warned residents in those 10 downstream communities to not drink from the river or water their cattle in it until further tests were completed. (Alexander does not draw water from the Athabasca.)
Alberta Health Services has yet to issue any warnings about fish consumption from the river as a result of the spill, said spokesperson Micky Elabdi.
Provincial investigators were now working to figure out what caused the spill and what charges, if any, should be laid, Barter said. “If there are contraventions (of the regulations), there will be consequences.”
There are about seven coal-mine waste storage ponds like the one at Obed Mine in Alberta, Barter said. None had suffered a breach like this in the last five years. “It’s a rare occurrence.”
Alexander officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Call Potter at 780-427-8636 for updates on the spill.



**********************************************************
The spill happened October 31, 2013.
When were communities warned about the spill?


Early in November, 2013.
Then there is the problem of the health officer saying there is a problem with the water here:


Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Confirms Toxic Water Contamination From Massive Coal Slurry Spill

Donna Lisenby |November 14, 2013 10:14 pm | Comments



Thank goodness for Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. After 14 days of stonewalling by the Alberta Government, he released some of the water test results from the gigantic 1 billion litre coal slurry spill into the Athabasca River from the Obed Mountain coal mine near Hinton, Alberta. Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal started her incredible breaking news story on Nov. 14 with the following:

“Mercury levels nine times higher than normal. Levels of cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons four times the allowed standard for Canadian drinking water. Those are the kinds of disturbing test results Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, is seeing as he monitors a huge plume of coal mine waste water currently oozing down the Athabasca River. Our overriding concern is the safety of the drinking water, says Talbot. We’re advising people, ‘Don’t draw water as the plume is going by.’”
Dr. James Talbot. Photo credit: Alberta Health
The information provided by Dr. Talbot stands in stark contrast to previous statements by the Alberta Government and Sherritt International, who owns the mine. The headlines in statements issued by the Alberta Government on Nov. 2 and Nov. 4 called Canada’s largest coal slurry spill a “sediment release.” The Nov. 4 statement went on to say, “Sediment was released from an onsite water storage pond. The pond contains high levels of suspended solids, which include such things as clay, mud, shale and coal particles.” Neither release mentioned the presence of toxic mercury or cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In fact, the Nov. 4 statement went out of its way to mention that “…water sample tests do not indicate any health risks.”
How long did Alberta Environment think they would get away with their failure to disclose critical information about toxics? Especially when you consider that the Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) contains public records that list tons of toxic waste dumped at the Obed Mine site. Mining Watch Canada reports that alarming amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead, manganese, mercury, zinc and PAH were reportedly dumped into Obed Mine’s containment ponds and provided this table of NPRI reported information:
When provided with the table of these pollutants, Dr. Greg Goss, an environmental toxicology professor and researcher at the University of Alberta, said:
“The coal slurry spill will be devastating to streams in the area for a long time. I am outraged that we have heard nothing from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). They are responsible for enforcing the Fisheries Act. Despite the recently stripped down Fisheries Act, this is a clear situation where the act still applies and we should expect a response from the DFO. There are cut-throat trout and native bull trout in the streams that were impacted by the spill. These are species that fall under the new recreational, commercial and aboriginal interest designation of the Fisheries Act.”
Jule Asterisk, a director of the Keepers of the Athabasca, said:
It is unbelievable in this day and age, with the known pressures of growth requiring constant vigilance and monitoring, that a containment pond was allowed to fail so dramatically. The Obed coal mine was ’suspended’ just last year for remediation. In any closure/suspension/remediation plan, there is an inspection schedule for the facility. Where were the inspectors? Both Sherritt International and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development have failed their due diligence in this case. The pond had a complete failure. One billion litres was allowed to blast 25 kilometres through trout streams to the Athabasca River before anyone noticed? Now, after being told the release was non-toxic, we are finding out differently. The government of Alberta and that of Canada now has another black eye in international opinion. Have we become a developing country that has no control of our environmental protection? Environmental care is not just about shutting down facilities, environmental care is about keeping people and our environment safe, one of the main reasons governments exist. From now on, we must have careful monitoring and full disclosure of industrial hazards.”
“We are not surprised to learn of the toxic nature of coal tailings spills,” says environmental lawyer and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson. “The lack of reporting outlines our disappointment with how government and industry handled this major spill. We now expect the full force of the law will be brought to bear on the polluter to ensure our waters and communities are protected.”
Picture of a 100 km long leak of coal mine sludge, making its way down the Athabasca River. This photo taken on Nov. 11 or 12, near the confluence of the Lesser Slave River. One billion litres of sludge leaked from the closed Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton on Oct. 31.
Photo credit: Alberta Environment
“Albertans have entrusted our government to protect our waters and public health. This needs to happen with actions not words,” says Glenn Isaac, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.
The Keepers of the Athabasca, Waterkeepers Canada and Waterkeeper Alliance are renewing our request to Alberta Environment to release all the water test results related to the Obed Mountain coal slurry spill. The Alberta government is 12 days overdue on its Nov. 2 promise to release these test results to the public. If you think it is high time for all the water test results to be released, you can make your own appeal by contacting Jessica Potter with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development at jessica.potter@gov.ab.ca or 780-427-8636 and toll free within Alberta at 310-0000.
Visit EcoWatch’s COAL and WATER page for more related news on this topic.
********************************************************************
So we have a whole pile of folks telling us the coal tailings pond was in fact a poison nest and we are to ask deep questions of government.


Meanwhile the vipers in this nest of the provincial government evade us and slither away.



We  have the government of Alberta saying there isn't a problem with the water but they won't release the tests done on the water.




Opposition politicians raise questions about government’s handling of coal waste water spill that released dangerous chemicals

Marty Klinkenberg, Edmonton Journal, November 15, 2013EDMONTON - The coal mine pond that leaked into the Athabasca River on Oct. 31 contained a range of potentially damaging compounds, including a suspected carcinogen called phenathrene.
According to the National Pollution Release Inventory, a database kept by Environment Canada, the impoundment at Sherritt International’s Obed Mountain mine also contained arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and manganese.
Found in contaminated water and air, phenathrene is one of a group of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are known to cause tumours in laboratory animals.
Alberta Environment has refused to release information about the contents of the plume of waste water that stretches more than 100 kilometres down the Athabasca River, other than to say it contained high levels of suspended solids, including such things as clay, mud, shale and coal particles.
Department officials maintain the leak poses no health concerns, but have advised communities downstream not to draw water from the river. Results of tests disclosed Wednesday by Alberta’s chief medical officer show levels of mercury nine times higher than usual and concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons four times above allowed standards for drinking water.
“These are compounds that are naturally contained within coal, but it is not natural for them to be washed into a river in such a large amount,” said Ramsey Hart, the Canada program co-ordinator with Mining Watch Canada, an Ottawa-based environmental organization that posted a list of the compounds in the storage facility on its website late Thursday. “I have been shocked and appalled as I have read statements from Alberta’s government about what was contained within the pond.
“It seems to be an attempt to dramatically minimize the effects of the residue that was released.”
Government officials announced that one billion litres of sediment and dirty water escaped into the river, an amount that would rank as the second-largest coal slurry spill in U.S. history. The company on Thursday revised the estimate of the volume released to 670 million litres.
“It would have been an environmental concern even if the leaked was only made up entirely of organic matter,” Hart said. “Given that we know that there are heavy metals and PAHs’ in the tailings, it’s a major environmental disaster.”
Opposition critics lined up to blast government on Thursday for not being forthcoming about the contents of the holding pond or the possibility of extensive environmental damage. Alberta Environment spokeswoman Jessica Potter said she expected summary results of water testing to be released in conjunction with Alberta Health Services by the end of the week.
The department has acknowledged habitat and fisheries have been damaged but have said it won’t be clear for months how much damage occurred. Environment Minister Diana McQueen on Wednesday maintained that the leak poses no health risk, but said the results of test would remain confidential for now.
“I think there is a major credibility issue,” Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said. “Alberta’s chief public health officer is concerned about the safety of drinking water and the Minister of Environment is saying there is no problem.
“I am going to hedge my bets in favour of the chief health officer.”
NDP critic Rachel Notley took government to task for being slow to release information.
“It makes my head explode,” Notley said, adding that government’s approach contradicts a bill it tabled last month calling for a new oilsands’ agency that is arm’s length from government.
“They are about to bring in legislation about monitoring and transparency at the same time they are refusing to release the information they have.”
Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin was incredulous.
“How a minister can say that there is no threat to people or the environment without sufficient data is beyond me,” Anglin said. “The idea that you could put a billion litres of coal waste into a river and think it’s not toxic defies logic.”
mklinkenberg@edmontonjournal.com



********************************************************


Where is the federal government in this hash?
I am really curious.
I will send this post to the minister responsible for Fisheries and Oceans here:




Our Minister: The Honourable Gail Shea



The Honourable Gail Shea is returning to Fisheries and Oceans as the Department’s Minister – a Cabinet position she held previously for close to three years.

Her appointment was announced July 15 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
First elected to the House of Commons in 2008, Minister Shea was named Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in October of that year.
She became Minister of National Revenue in May 2011, and was assigned to the additional position of Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in February 2013.
Prior to her election to the House of Commons, Ms Shea was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Before entering politics, she managed a small family business for 15 years.
Ms. Shea has long been active in her community. She served as vice-president and treasurer of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6. She has also served as a school trustee and president of the local Home and School Association.
Ms. Shea's long record of volunteerism includes involvement in her local community festivals, sports teams and church. A passionate advocate for seniors, she has also run a tax preparation program for seniors.
Ms. Shea and her husband, Russell, have five children.
************************************************************
Why hasn't she got involved in this disaster?
I mean she is responsible for the fish that will die in this river isn't she?
Although the provincial government tells us now that there is damage they won't tell us what the damage is. Maybe the federal Wildrosies need to come in here and find out what the true damage is to the ecosystem?


The department has acknowledged habitat and fisheries have been damaged but have said it won’t be clear for months how much damage occurred. Environment Minister Diana McQueen on Wednesday maintained that the leak poses no health risk, but said the results of test would remain confidential for now.


********************************************************************


The lies we have been given are now evident to us.
In addition the late response by all parties is simply negligent performance by public bodies that are entrusted with public health and safety not to mention the environment.


Why the late response by the Alberta Government and the AER? Were they getting the PR information together?


Seems to be they should have a better emergency response team out there to inform folks of the truth of this spill which simply is not what either the government or the company told people in the start of the incident.


The government told us that this material according to Jessica Potter of Alberta Environment--was "mud, essentially."


The spill created a large, dark plume of water that passed by Alexander on Tuesday, said Jessica Potter, spokesperson for Alberta Environment. “It’s mud, essentially.”


A more formal spin article was then sent out to reassure us that the pond had nothing but good old dirt in it:




“The sediment was released from an onsite water storage pond,” the Alberta Government said in a press release. “The pond contains high levels of suspended solids, which include such things as clay and organic matter.”
The government is monitoring the river for the sediment that was released.
“Municipal drinking water systems are designed to filter materials out of water,” the government stated. “Government staff continue to monitor the release and are conducting water quality sampling in the river. These results will be shared with Alberta Health Services and other agencies; results will also be made public as soon as possible.”
****************************************************************************


The company --Sherritt gets in on the fun and games of Synergy type propaganda and says that the government is sure correct about the release and its harmless effects.




About a billion litres of water containing rock, clay, mud, shale and coal fines escaped the pond, said Paula Myson, spokesperson for mine owner Sherritt International. The water flowed into the mine’s main pond and, when that overflowed, into a spillway leading to the Athabasca. There were no injuries from the release. Sherritt has not mined at the site since late last year.
**********************************************************


The company gives us some of the components of what was in the containment pond and indeed they do sound harmless.
I mean what do citizens actually know about coal slurry?
Not a whole bunch.
We do know about the risks of coal ash going into water from previous incidents involving coal ash dumps by coal companies:




THE END GAME OF DEREGULATION:
MYOPIC RISK MANAGEMENT AND THE NEXT
CATASTROPHE


THOMAS O.MCGARITY &RENA I. STEINZOR†
I.INTRODUCTION
On December 22, 2008, the contents of an enormous
impoundment containing coal-ash slurry from the Tennessee Valley
Authority’s (TVA) Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant poured into the Emory
River. The proximate cause of the spill was the bursting of a poorly
reinforced dike holding back a pit of sludge that towered 80 feet
above the river and 40 feet above an adjacent road.1
The volume and
force of the spill were so large that 1.1 billion gallons of the inky mess
flowed across the river, inundating 300 acres of land in a layer four to
five feet deep, uprooting trees, destroying three homes, and damaging
dozens of others.2
The catastrophic breach ruptured a gas line, caused
millions of dollars in property damage, and caused incalculable
environmental damage to the Emory River and its receiving water,
the Clinch River.3
A week after the spill, heaps of gray material
remained in the river like small volcanic islands.4
Miraculously, no
one was killed.5
The slurry contained both fly and bottom ash, collectively known
as “coal combustion residuals” (CCRs) in the euphemistic lexicon of
environmental regulation.6
Because coal-fired power plants have
scrubbers that trap fumes before they are emitted into ambient air,
the fly-ash portion of the spill contained significantly more than the
quota of toxic heavy metals that typically result from burning coal.7
Or, in other words, in an inevitable but ironic twist, the benefits to
breathers were obtained at the expense of walkers and drinkers. TVA
later estimated that the Kingston Spill had released around 2.6
million pounds of toxic pollutants into the Emory River.8
By way of
comparison, all of the other power plants in the United States
released just over 2 million pounds of toxic pollutants during all of
2007.9
Cleanup costs for the federally subsidized TVA, one of the
largest electric utilities in the country, are expected to total $1.2
billion, adding $0.69 per month to the utility bills of nine million
customers until 2024.10
The Kingston spill was the worst of its kind in U.S. history, but it
was not the first, nor would it be the last. For a brief period of time,
the catastrophe focused the nation’s attention on the health and
environmental risks posed by dumping coal ash in unlined pits in the
ground referred to as “surface impoundments.”11 Prominent national
environmental groups demanded greater protection from Congress
and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both of which had
long skittered away from confronting the problem in the face of
unyielding resistance by electric utilities to any hint of regulatory
intervention that would compel the safer disposal of coal ash and the
reinforcement of old, poorly designed, and carelessly maintained
coal-ash dumps.12
In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, Congressman
Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced a bill that would have authorized the
Department of Interior to promulgate uniform federal design,
engineering, and performance standards for new coal-ash
impoundments.13 Three congressional committees devoted six
hearings to the need for proper regulation of coal-ash wastes.14
Notably, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson promised to reevaluate by
the end of 2009 the agency’s decades-old reluctance to regulate the
disposal of some 129 million tons of coal ash generated annually,15
a startling figure when compared to the 250 million tons of every
category of household garbage that Americans generated in 2010.16
Jackson met this deadline.17 But her efforts were thwarted when
an intensive industry lobbying campaign provoked the White House
to rewrite the EPA proposal, adding two significantly weaker options
and derailing the momentum of Jackson’s proposal.18 The 111th
Congress failed to enact protective legislation and, in the aftermath of
the 2010 mid-term election that transferred control of the House of
Representatives back to the Republican Party, the 112th Congress
nearly enacted legislation that would have divested the EPA of its
authority to adopt strong coal-ash rules.19 Four years after Kingston,
the federal government has yet to take action despite another large
spill into Lake Michigan.20 To the extent that such disposal is
regulated at all, it is subject only to erratic and often ineffective state
regulatory controls.21
In the past, catastrophic events like the Kingston disaster have
resulted in dramatic governmental reforms, pushing the law forward
to meet new challenges and provide expanded protection for public
health and the environment. Congress enacted most of the regulatory
statutes of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Public Interest
Era22 after widely publicized tragedies or abuses stirred public opinion
to levels sufficient to overcome the inertia that otherwise overwhelms
Congress and the regulatory agencies.23 For example, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission reacted to the Three Mile Island nearmeltdown in 1979 by putting into place much stricter regulatory
requirements for power plants.24 The Federal Aviation
Administration has developed a set of new airline safety
requirements following nearly every major passenger airplane crash.25
The EPA asked for and received authority from Congress to regulate
fugitive releases from chemical plants following the December 1984
explosion at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India that
killed 2,000 people.26
But in the context of more recent history, the passive response to
the Kingston spill was not an outlier. The past decade has witnessed a
confluence of crises across a broad array of federal regulatory
programs. The response by Congress and the regulatory agencies to
most of these multiple crises has been tepid at best. The Deepwater
Horizon explosion and oil spill of April 2010 generated no new
legislation, and the regulatory response amounted only to a modest
reorganization and renaming of the agency that had utterly failed—
and is still failing—to regulate deepwater oil and gas drilling.27 The
Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine disaster in the same month likewise
generated no new legislation and no significant regulatory reforms.28
Even when crises did stimulate Congress to act, the changes were by
no means dramatic. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
(CPSIA) of 2008 did little to enhance the Consumer Product Safety
Commission’s (CPSC) capacity to reduce the risks posed by imported
products, and Congress soon amended the statute to provide broad
exemptions from its lead-poisoning prevention requirements for
existing toys.29 The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 left much
of the responsibility for protecting the public from contaminated food
in the hands of food producers subject to oversight by a resourcestarved FDA, and it did nothing at all to cure the overlapping
jurisdiction, misplaced priorities, and weak enforcement that have
plagued food-safety regulation since the early twentieth century.30
This recent history raises the question of why the twentiethcentury dynamic of crisis and reform has apparently disappeared in
the early twenty-first century. Using the Kingston catastrophe as a
case study, this article offers several explanations for this unfortunate
trend. We argue that regulated industries dominate regulatory
debates on Capitol Hill and at the federal agencies to an
unprecedented extent. Rather than stressing the importance of
science-based rulemaking, the White House has engaged in its own
intemperate interventions, upping the ante for flexing raw political
muscle at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The growing weakness
of the media’s investigative reporting has exacerbated both trends.31
In the end, these factors have sparked the deeply disturbing evolution
of the administrative process into a kind of “blood sport.”32 This
degeneration’s most obvious and immediate threat is to our shared
“commons,”33 but over the long run it is equally likely to cause
irrevocable harm to individual businesses and to the efficient
functioning of regulated markets.
Part II examines what we know about the Kingston spill and the
implications of that information for a recurrence of such events. Part
III explains how the EPA and Congress responded to this disaster,
highlighting how politics driven by a deregulatory ideology eventually
swamped the EPA’s deliberative, science-based rulemaking process.
Part IV offers some suggestions for rebuilding regulatory agencies
like the EPA and for restoring public trust in government as first
steps on the way to a regulatory regime that is capable of preventing
future Kingston tragedies.
********************************************************************


In this article we got to review another coal company dump into a drinking water source.  This was not coal slurry being tossed but even more toxic stuff--fly and bottom ash from combustion of coal.


The slurry contained both fly and bottom ash, collectively known
as “coal combustion residuals” (CCRs) in the euphemistic lexicon of
environmental regulation.6


*******************************************************************
Despite this major dump which is equivalent to the dump we have here in Alberta--no one seems to be making a fuss about the Alberta dump.


Why is this the case?


In Alberta I would say we self monitor our speech, are bathed in amniotic fluid in a sac of spin that allows us to block out any dissonance in the information being fed to us by the umbilical cords of government, industry and the AER.


Companies lobbying the government at all levels creates an advantage for industry so that when they operate--they operate in a vacuum--- in terms of pollution of the environment--in Alberta--this is called the Alberta Advantage.


You only have to look at the municipal government's failures in reference to the Page the Cleaner site and their agreement with the failures of the provincial government of Alberta to get the site cleaned up --to understand clearly that the safety of citizens is a very low priority for our government.


What is important to them is money, the industry that pays them election donations and their unending grip on the information that allows them to keep us as infants in the sacs of spin.


When will this criminal performance in the area of environmental regulation, oversight and end?


I would say it will end when citizens stop being afraid and speak. I would say it will end when ordinary citizens speak despite losing their jobs. I would say that it will end when citizens speak despite the silencing by the people in their communities who are afraid to lose their lock on power. I would say that this sort of corruption of our democracy will only end when we see that the health of our children and ourselves is more important than the paycheck from resources that are developed in this poor manner.


We need resource development.
But we don't need our drinking water poisoned in order to get resource development done in Alberta.
We need resource development.
But we don't need to get poor returns on our resources in order to get resource development done in Alberta.
We need resource development.
But we don't need to let our government, the AER and industry pollute just because they want to save money by poor practices, sloppy industry adherence to the laws (those best in the world regulations they keep telling us about) and a corporate philosophy that allows citizens to be impacted while industry makes trillions of dollars in Alberta.


We have a government, an energy regulator and a corporate sector in charge of the democracy and we are unwilling to fight for our rights because in Alberta, we understand we have no power.


But if we do not speak and act, if we do not work for the rights we are supposed to have, if we do not ask for what we do not now have--good governance and appropriate systems in place to prevent such sloppy industry practices---well then I'd say this will keep on happening because government is organized to protect its own power and will do anything to keep this power.  


The Tories in this case, manufactured a story that is now being taken apart and found to be wearisomely repetitive (it is all OK; it is all OK until the truth gets out).


What is the truth in this case?


The truth is that there is no longer trust in the room.
Without this trust we cannot operate in a society.
Without this trust, we have to understand that we have to investigate each piece of information we are given to find out the actual story.


So let us look at the actual story.


The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Release of sediment from coal mine west of Edmonton contained: government

By: The Canadian Press
Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM |


HINTON, Alta. - Alberta Environment says a release of contaminated water from a coal mine west of Edmonton has been contained.
The department is still advising people not to draw water from the Athabasca River downstream from the Obed Mountain Mine site near Hinton.
The department says water samples already taken don't indicate any health risks.
But government staff are continuing to test the water and results are to be shared with Alberta Health Services and other agencies.
Further analysis is also to determine what, if any, environmental impact there may have been.
Sediment was released last week from an on-site water storage pond that contains high levels of suspended solids such as clay, mud, shale and coal particles.
The government is also advising farmers not to let livestock drink from the river until the full results from water samples are available.
It also advises that residents may see a noticeable colour change on the river as the sediment moves downstream.


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Looks like the containment pond emptied out by November 4, 2013.
They issue a drinking water advisory because they know there are toxins in the water but they still deny it. but they issue this for animals!
They say that they have done tests.
Government staff have done these tests.
But do we believe them?


I don't.
I go look up what coal slurry is.


I have to do a quick search to find information as I do not know anything about this area.

Toxic Coal Ash and Coal Slurry

When a new coal mine breaks ground, the door is opened for the coal company to dump toxic coal slurry and coal ash in central Illinois communities.

Coal Slurry Impoundments

Shay #1 Slurry Impoundment, Macoupin County

Coal mines use roughly 2 million gallons of water daily to wash coal when it comes out of the ground. Coal slurry is the contaminated process water that is leftover. It contains elevated levels of chlorides, sulfates, arsenic, lead, mercury, and selenium.
Coal companies dispose of coal slurry in massive impoundments. Coal slurry impoundments represent a major threat to public health andaquatic organisms due to potential contamination of groundwater and streams. Additionally they pose a serious safety hazard.
When the impoundments are full, the slurry pile is “reclaimed” by draining off the water and covering the pile of slurry solids with clay and dirt. After the coal mine is gone, rural communities can be left with massive piles of pollution. The final height of Deer Run Mine’s reclaimed refuse disposal area is projected to be nearly 100 feet tall.

Coal Ash

At coal mines in central Illinois, coal ash (the solid byproduct leftover after coal is burned to generate electricity) is often dumped into unlined slurry impoundments at coal mines or held in similar impoundments near coal burning power plants. Harmful metals are concentrated when coal is burned, so coal ash contains elevated levels of arsenic, mercury, selenium, chromium and cadmium. Currently, coal ash dumps are subjected to less regulation than household garbage, even though coal ash is known to contain extremely harmful pollution.
Crown III RDA with coal slurry and coal ash
Coal ash impoundments pose a serious threat to public health and safety, as illustrated by the TVA Kingston Fossil Valley Coal Ash Spill in 2008. There are at least 83 such coal ash impoundments in Illinois, and at least a dozen are known to have contaminated groundwater.
At the Crown III Mine in Macoupin and Montgomery Counties near Farmersville, Illinois, coal ash and slurry are dumped in the same unlined impoundment. Crown III is authorized to accept coal ash from 37 different sources, illustrating a worrisome trend in Illinois where coal burning facilities pay to dispose of the coal ash at the mine where the coal originated. At a public hearing for Crown III’s water pollution permit renewal in December 2010, Illinois EPA admitted that groundwater monitoring wells on the site were violating water quality standards. It is urgent that Illinois EPA stop allowing coal mines to dispose of coal waste in ways that threaten clean drinking water.
- See more at: http://www.citizensagainstlongwallmining.org/coal-ash-and-slurry-disposal/#sthash.RXTKsWcR.dpuf
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This article was useful as it explains the difference between the coal slurry and the coal ash by products of mining and electricity generation.
These products are poorly regulated in terms of their disposal.
The end pits that are to contain the coal slurry and coal ash in the USA are near to drinking water as well and provide sources of contaminating pollutants.


So based on this first article the questions now are why do we allow this sort of disposal and why aren't such dangerous chemicals kept far away from the drinking water sources such as the Athabasca River?


What exactly is found in coal slurry that our government does not want to tell us about (until they find a way to minimize the damage to us from this incident)?

Chemicals Found in Coal Sludge and Slurry

To process Appalachian coal for market, companies wash and prepare it using water, coagulants, flocculants and surfactants.  Coal slurry consists of this chemically treated water and very fine particles of coal, rock and clay.
The rock, coal, and clays contain a wide range of heavy metals including arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, iron, manganese, aluminum and nickel—all of which dissolve in the water—and some hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals.  While patent law limits the information available about the chemicals used in coal processing, serious concerns about their neurotoxic and carcinogenic effects particularly on workers in the plants [link] have been raised. Reagents used in processing coal includeacrylamides, (some acrylamides are carcinogenic), lime (pH adjuster), natural and modified starches, caustic starch, denatured alcohol, sulfuric acid (pH adjuster), nitric acid (pH adjuster), aluminum sulfate (pH adjuster), iron oxide, diesel fuel and anhydrous ammonia.
There have been very few independent tests of the composition of coal slurry.  Since the chemical composition of slurry can be variable depending on the chemical make-up of the coal being processed as well as the chemicals used in a particular prep plant's washing technique, this means that citizens can have a hard time figuring out exactly what chemicals they are at risk of exposure to.
Below is a list of some of the chemicals found in slurry and sludge:
Acenaphthene
Acenapthylene
Benzo(a)pyrene
Benzo(b)fluoranthene
Benzo(ghi)perylene
Benzo(k)fluoroanthene
Benzyl alcohol
bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate
bis(2-chloroethoxy)-methane
bis(2-chloroisopropyl)ether
Butyl benzyl phthalate
Chrysene
Dibenzo(a,h)anthracene
Dibenzofuran
Dibutyl phtalate
Dimethyl phthalate
Dioctylphthalate
Fluoranthene
Fluorene
Indeno(1,2,3-c,d)pyrene
Phenanthrene
Pyrene
Acrylamide
1,2,4-trichlorobenzene
1,2-Dichlorobenzene
1,3-Dichlorobenzene
2-Chloronaphtalene
|2-Nitroaniline
3-Nitroaniline
4-Bromophenyl phenyl ether
4-Chloroaniline
4-Chhlorophenyl phenyl ether
4-Nitroaniline
Specific Elements and Compounds
Source: Kentucky Division of Water. DOW-DES Analytical Data File.
Electronic File: Martin Co.Coal.Co.Slurry Release Data.xls
Heavy Metals Found in Coal Slurry



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What our government in Alberta will not tell us--we can find out for ourselves.
We now know that the government of Alberta, the AER and the company were lying to us when they decided to tell us that this was simply sediment.
Actually this isn't simply sediment.
The company knows exactly what is in the pond because they are required to have records that they then submit to the regulator and then the regulator (I assume) files these reports somewhere.
I would imagine that these records would be a matter of public information but I haven't been able to locate them.
What records am I speaking about?
These sorts of records:

Regulatory compliance of the Obed Mountain coal project



Notes:
Non confidential University of Calgary project management program course no.ENCI 619.54
Filed in storage room with the Confidential IR documents
Call Number:
ERCB-IR-85R21
Collection:
Calgary Library
Status:
Available


Digest of environmental regulations pertinent to open pit mining in Canada



Notes:
54 p.
Call Number:
CA1-EM60-3-R26/NO.76-16
Collection:
Calgary Library
Status:
Available


******************************************


I know for a fact that there has to be testing done of the containment pond contents.
The industry has to give the results to the AER.
Or to Alberta Environment.
I don't know if they both get these results.
In any case there are results somewhere and they should be --in my opinion--all on the website of the AER as soon as they are given to the AER.
Why should any of these reports be held as crown jewels for only the use of the Queen and her private entourage of loyalists in the government of Alberta?


This is information that is required to be in the public domain since golly gee--these resources belong to all Albertans and what is done by these resource companies must be public domain knowledge--including acts of criminal pollution of this sort.



These resource companies are exploiting resources owned by all Albertans. Even in the area of coal exploitation--we don't get much until the industry pays off its bills.


Where else in the world do companies get such a free ride on the backs of the citizens?


We subsidize big oil .


Now I find out we subsidize coal extraction.
Coal and Mineral Development in Alberta
2012 Year in Review
Metallic and industrial mineral activity
Coal mining and projects
Land-use planning
Alberta mineral tenure and royalty
Mineral assessment reports
Mine activities – coal
Production. Every year, approximately 30 million
tonnes of coal is mined in Alberta. Total production was
down by 2.5 million tonnes from 2011, mostly due to a
decrease in subbituminous coal production (Tables 9 and
10). Approximately 75% of the total coal production is
subbituminous coal from seven mines in the Plains region
of Alberta, and is used primarily for domestic electricity
generation. 54% of Alberta’s electricity was produced by
coal-fired generators in 2011 [4]. The other 25% of total
production is bituminous coal produced from four mines
in the Foothills and mountain region of the province, and
is exported for thermal or metallurgical use. A list of active
coal mines is provided in Table 11.
Royalty. Royalties from subbituminous coal has
increased over the last five years due to an increased
proportion of the subbituminous production from Crownleased coal. No royalty is collected on coal produced from privately held, or freehold, mineral rights
There was a significant decrease in the bituminous coal
royalty collected, from 2009 through 2012, due to a
decrease in the second tier royalty collected. First tier
royalty for bituminous coal is 1% on the mine mouth
revenue and is collected on all production throughout
the life of a mine. Second tier royalty is an additional
13% of the net revenue; it is only collected after a mine
has reached payout status (i.e. paid off the initial capital
expenditure) and fluctuates with the revenue, which is
dependent on production costs.
There are two royalty regimes for coal in Alberta (Table
12). The two systems are divided regionally, which
effectively divides them by coal grade: subbituminous or
bituminous. Royalties are only collected on Crown-owned
coal; if a mine is producing both Crown and freehold coal,
royalty is only payable for the coal mined from within
Crown leases.
Coal from within the Plains region (subbituminous coal)
has a flat-rate royalty that is adjusted using a Crown
Royalty Adjustment Factor (CRAF), which is set each
year. The CRAF for 2013 has been renewed at the same
rate as 2012, keeping the royalty on subbituminous coal
at $0.55/tonne.
Mountain and Foothills coal (bituminous coal) has a two stage system for royalties. Before a mine has paid off the capital expenses for mine development and construction,
the royalty is 1% of the mine mouth revenue. After a mine
has reached payout, they must pay aggregate of 1% of
mine mouth revenue and 13% of net revenue.
Coal royalty rates
Subbituminous
coal $0.55 per tonne
Bituminous
coal
Pre-payout
1% mmra


Post-Payout: sum of
1% mmr and
13% nrb
a
mmr: mine mouth revenue
b
nr: net revenue
Table 12. Alberta's coal royalty rates.
**************************************************************
It is clear to me that we are not only being ripped off in terms of our oil resources but also in terms of our coal resources.
Why are these royalty rates so darn low?
Look no further the good old Alberta Advantage set up by the Alberta Tories.
We've got a corruption of the government that ensures that the public good is a matter that is never considered in Alberta.
Nope. It is the corporate good over every other matter in Alberta and we were too dumb to know this.
The chicken vultures are everywhere over the dumb chickens.


Now that we have a tiny bit of information on the side products, the fact that are test results on the coal slurry somewhere in the closed mouth of the government of Alberta and the AER---then you might ask yourself why don't we have some of these results provided to us without us investigating our government?



Well the fact is folks---- in Alberta there is a Synergy program at every level of our government----from municipalities to the upper echelon in the provincial government that deals with the money from our resources (and really with any area of our governance there is this sort of closed jaw--that I call the mouth that never opens to tell me anything that I want to know).


These resource companies operate near our drinking water.
The coal and bitumen companies are next to the major rivers of our province.
Not only this but these rivers flow into other rivers of other provinces / territories. This lack of effective management of resource industries with reference to their byproducts of business due to the lax Alberta Advantage is creating liabilities not only for the public purse in Alberta but elsewhere:

Alberta coal mine spill heading to N.W.T.

CBC News Posted: Nov 15, 2013 6:26 PM CT Last Updated: Nov 15, 2013 6:26 PM CT
Contaminated water is now making its way through the Athabasca River and the Peace River. It should reach the Slave River and Great Slave Lake close to the beginning of December. (CBC)


Related Stories

The Northwest Territories’ Environment Minister says toxins from a massive coal mine spill in Alberta are making their way north.
On Oct. 31, Sherritt International's Obed Mountain coal mine spilled about 1 billion litres of contaminated water into the Athabasca River. The mine is no longer operating. The spill happened when a retaining wall collapsed, unleashing the equivalent of about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of contaminated water.
The Alberta government says the contaminated water is now making its way through the Athabasca River and the Peace River. It should reach the Slave River and Great Slave Lake close to the beginning of December.
MIltenberger says he wasn’t informed of the spill of toxic water until Nov. 4, four days after it happened.
Sherritt International says it conducts daily water sampling downstream from the spill at Obed Mountain Mine near Hinton, Alta. (Sherritt International)
“We are going to keep doing monitoring as it makes its way north,” Miltenberger said. “This is the first coal mine spill of this magnitude. A huge amount of water filled with these waste substances... In my recollection, this is the first of this type of catastrophic failure.”
According to Environment Canada, the water being stored at the mine contained potentially damaging compounds, including a suspected carcinogen known to cause tumours in laboratory animals. There's also arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and manganese found at the disposal site.
The Alberta government says the contaminated water will dilute and be safe once it reaches the Slave River in the N.W.T. Miltenberger says his department will continue to test the water for contaminants as it moves downstream.
Miltenberger says there have been oil spills that have leaked into the local watersheds in the past, but they've never affected drinking water.
The Alberta government says it's doing comprehensive testing for heavy metals on clay, mud, shale and coal particles moving through the Athabasca River. Alberta Health maintains there are no immediate health concerns.

Fort Smith resident worried

Fort Smith resident Francois Paulette says that’s far from the truth.
“They've been saying that for 40 years,” Paulette says. “The environmental people are saying this is a highly toxic contaminant in the water. We've been instructed that people shouldn't be taking water from the river in that week.”
The Alberta government says it’s hoping to share the test results from the affected areas in the Athabasca River early next week.

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Interestingly enough in the NWT they don't seem to have Synergy groups and CAPP parties and say the bad news like it is --that this is an environmental catastrophe the Alberta Tories can add to their list of debacles created by that darn Alberta Advantage ---which seems to be all about ensuring that polluters get away with poisoning citizens, their kids and the environment.


In fact, we would be most inclined now to wonder if the Redford government can do anything right now.
As we lurch from train mishaps to CNRL bubbling crude to the surface (and most probably always to the subsurface) with the concomitant contamination of the aquifer that is unnamed ---as we go towards the pipeline spills and the tests on the rivers and lands and air that we never hear about after they are done; as we go to the failure of our government in managing our resources responsibly our siren cry is always --the Alberta Advantage!


And what about the water that the Alberta Advantage is mucking up so well?
Should we not at least spare some minute bit of time on contemplating the state of the water we drink?
Since resource extraction requires water for the processing part of the deal--this must be why they are located near water sources.
But this then should require stringent controls don't you think?


Simply having these products in unlined containment ponds and then having such a release--seems to be an inevitable price we will have to pay and --believe me it is the public purse that pays for the ultimate damages of poor regulatory enforcement, collusion between government, regulatory bodies and industry in the cover up of these incidents and in the final end result which will be cancer villages of the sort that China is now enjoying.
Greed in resource and other industries will produce cancer villages if citizens don't get going.
But if we are all to afraid to speak out because we might lose our jobs--well then --its a sad thing but this sort of cancer village scenario is certain.
Instead of such a dismal situation as the situation we are daily confronted with in Alberta of irresponsible resource development it might be wiser to have the government of Alberta actually do its fricking job instead of privatizing everything for their own ideological endpoints.
It is useful to look at the record of their messes and then work assiduously to reveal them to other citizens who might be as dumb as I was once. The fact is we are being duped daily by these poor managers at every level of our democracy and we are daily paying the price for their psychopathic performance.


Where once there were decent, public minded servants of the people, we now have toadies, fools and manipulative political hires who are in control of our government and set the agenda against the will of the majority of us.
Corporations rule in every province and territory in Canada.
In Alberta they more than rule.
They enslave.







What would be a more intelligent way of doing resource development is not considered by any of the entities that are supposedly managing our resources in Alberta.


We get the greed imperative ensuring the deregulation of the industry to the point where we now have in Alberta the unprecedented levels of collusion and corruption that is clearly evident to me in the presentation of the Obed Mountain coal disaster and the CNRL spill by not only the government of Alberta and the industries concerned but also by the energy regulator--the AER.


After all --what were the energy regulator's comments on the incident early on?




News Release 2013-11-01 (AERNR2013-40)

VIEW PDF (51.28 KB)

Alberta Energy Regulator responding to Obed Mountain Coal Mine Process Water Containment Failure

For immediate release
Calgary, Alberta (Nov 01, 2013)…
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has been notified by Obed Mountain Coal Ltd. that a pit containing coal process and surface water failed at approximately 6:30 PM on October 31, releasing a large quantity of the process water into the Athabasca River via two tributaries. The mine is located approximately 30 kilometres east of Hinton, Alberta.
There were no injuries as a result of this incident. All other appropriate agencies have been notified, including Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. The AER is investigating this incident to determine if the company was in compliance with AER requirements.
The AER ensures the safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over their entire life cycle. This will include allocating and conserving water resources, managing public lands, and protecting the environment while providing economic benefits for all Albertans.





FOR BROADCAST USE
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is responding to a pit containment failure at the Obed Mountain Coal Mine, 30 km east of Hinton. The AER is investigating this incident to determine if the company was in compliance with AER requirements.
– 30 –
For more information, please contact:
Darin Barter
Phone: 403-681-0946
E-mail: darin.barter@aer.ca
AERNR2013-40
- See more at: http://www.aer.ca/about-aer/media-centre/news-releases/3785#sthash.FK1gR186.dpuf


******************************************************************


They tell us it is process water. We still don't get any more than this from them.
It is now clear to me that the reason the federal government has turned over environmental oversight to the provinces is because of the role of the provincial government to hide the dirty secrets of industry from the public.



I mean if we trust the folks we hire --we don't ask questions.
If they don't give out any information, we exist in an information vacuum.
If we know nothing about mining--we are reluctant to ask dumb questions.


And so forty or so years of the Alberta Bermuda Triangle has allowed us to be dumber than Snowshoe hares stopped in their tracks by truck headlights in the middle of the road.


It is tiresome to find out that I was naive, trusting and dumb as a hare for forty years and more. The only consolation is that I am now less naive, completely untrusting and slightly smarter than I was when I believed the folks who glowingly told us on the news that the response of the provincial energy regulator and their associated henchmen and henchwomen in Alberta Environment has responded well to yet another major disaster, that their communities were somehow pristine when as far as I know none of the water is in a diaper and therefore is full of carcinogens and finally--these municipal leaders who are Tory faithful in their dull citizen garb---lie to us without blushing.


I am now used to everyone lying to me because these folks are basically functional psychopaths (an oxymoron but there you go).
In order to lie to us in this way they have cut off their brains and invested heavily in their dark sides.


What is the dark side?
I see this in people all the time.
The dark side of people is the part of them that allows them to overwrite the truth inside them that is recognized by them but is blotted out by them deliberately.


These folks see a route to power, they invest all their time and energy to get to the place they want to be and damn the consequences to anyone and everyone.


Such folks are basically able to shut off their conscience.


It's apparent to me that to function in Alberta in any sort of way --requires a certain ability to squelch the voice of your conscience and rationalize that these sorts of lies are necessary for resource development.


I don't happen to believe these sorts of rationalizations---- that are based on a lack of ethical and moral compass in these folks. We need to overturn the spin and set the facts before ourselves and then ask our government to change its poor performance STAT.


It maybe possible to actually avoid this sort of poisoning of citizens if we demand that our government hires do their jobs. If the government hires do not do their jobs we are to fire them. If they are criminally negligent we are to jail them.
Simple as that.


Instead we shut up as if talking about the environmental messes would impact our economy in a negative way.
I actually think that not talking about the environmental messes that are a direct result of policy decisions made by the Tories.


Here is more chatter in the area of the Alberta Advantage that folks in Quebec seemingly haven't taken to. I think it is wise of the folks in Quebec to think before they leap into the resources boom that supposedly is present in Alberta (but that I see as simply sputtering out pretty soon).


I am skeptical that we have a boom and instead predict a bust.
I am skeptical that citizens enjoy an Alberta Advantage but we certainly labor under constraints on our democracy --such as self -monitoring, fear of losing our jobs and all the other good things associated with not toeing the Tory lies in Alberta.
I am skeptical that the Redford crew will be able to create a belief in responsible resource development that is the new fiction created by CAPP and promulgated by the CAPP parties everywhere.
I am skeptical that the Hosannas sung by the Synergy groups all over rural Alberta will stop the simmering resentment of water on fire, the contaminated aquifers, the dumped oil in the lakes and rivers; I am skeptical of the Alberta Advantage period under a group of the most incompetent, brutal Tory regime since the Klein error.


But we have the believers in the Alberta Advantage, and they are the ones in corporate Alberta that prop up the corrupt crew in government at all levels.
The people are cowed.
The media folks are useless.
The entire group of the opposition isn't able to coalesce and form an united force against the CAPP parties.


So this Obed mine spill is sure to be followed by tailings ponds spills in a community near to you.
Let us hope the federal government wakes up and starts to do its job.








Oilsands expansion: Conflicting studies on its benefits for Quebec

BY MONIQUE BEAUDIN, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER NOVEMBER 13, 2013
0
The expansion of Canada's oilsands is a boon to oil-producing provinces, like Alberta, but two new studies disagree about whether it is also good for Quebec.
One study, by the environmental think-tank Pembina Institute and the Quebec environmental group Équiterre, says rapid growth in Canada's oil industry is creating regional imbalances, and may have helped contribute to a decline in Quebec's manufacturing industry.
The other study, prepared by KPMG consultants for Quebec's federation of chambers of commerce, argues that future growth of the oilsands will result in increased opportunities for Quebec companies, support or create new jobs and increase revenues for the provincial government.
Since Enbridge announced last fall that it wants to use its Line 9B pipeline to carry oil from Western Canada to Montreal, debate has swirled in Quebec about the project and Canada's oilsands operations.
Opponents argued that okaying the pipeline project will inevitably lead to the expansion of oilsands development in Western Canada, causing environmental damage and contributing to climate change. Proponents, including federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, say shipping Western oil east will benefit Quebecers by helping the province's two refineries, protecting an estimated 4,000 jobs related to the industry.
"For a long time, the debate about the tarsands was very distant to Quebecers," said Équiterre senior director Steven Guilbeault. "This is a moment for us to step back and look at the tarsands from a different perspective than Joe Oliver, who's a tarsands cheerleader."
The KPMG report, for its part, says that while Alberta, and to a lesser extent, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador are the main beneficiaries of oil-industry investments and operations, non-oil producing provinces like Ontario and Quebec have seen some benefits.
In 2012, investment and operations in the oilsands supported more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in Quebec, with economic benefits of nearly $1 billion, the report says. The impact was much greater in Alberta, where more than 308,000 jobs are linked to the industry with economic benefits of more than $7 billion.
Further expansion of the oilsands is an "interesting opportunity" that could benefit companies in Quebec and Ontario, the KPMG report said.
"These significant economic benefits show that it is to Quebec's advantage to support the development and growth of the Canadian oil industry," Quebec's federation of chambers of commerce said.
But Équiterre and Pembina say oil development is creating "significant regional imbalances" with respect to GDP growth, employment and tax revenue. Producing provinces, particularly Alberta, are reaping nearly all the benefits, the report said. It goes on to say that "as oilsands producers seek to minimize costs" American and overseas suppliers could benefit more from greater oilsands production than other Canadian provinces.
While the report says there is debate about whether or not Canada has "Dutch disease" — a situation where the dollar is so high that a country's manufactured products become too expensive to export — it argues that the recent rise in the Canadian dollar, which occurred as oil production increased, has hurt the manufacturing sector. More than 550,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in Canada between 2004 and 2010, and most manufacturing jobs are found in Ontario and Quebec, the report says.
For his part, Oliver said Wednesday that "the benefits of natural resource development are clear, providing nearly 20 per cent to our GDP and 10 per cent of Canadian jobs." He said the federal government will continue to support jobs supported by the natural-resources sector, "while ensuring a balance between environmental protection and economic development."
While much of the Pembina/Équiterre report looks at the economic impacts of oilsands expansion, it also says Canada needs to take into consideration the possibility that global action on climate change could reduce demand for petroleum products. The country's long-term competitiveness could be limited if there is too great a reliance on fossil-fuel use and revenues, the authors say.
mbeaudin@montrealgazette.com
Twitter:@moniquebeaudin
To read the Pembina/Équiterre report “Booms, busts and bitumen”, go towww.equiterre.org
To read the KPMG report, “Economic impacts of the Western Canadian oil industry” (in French), go to www.fccq.ca





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