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Tag: Tar Sands

Leave it in the Ground, pt 3


Extracting tar sands oil is no easy feat.  One method involves injecting super-heated steam under high pressure deep into the ground to liquefy the hardened tar so it can be extracted.  Only sometimes this results in a blowout and the toxic bitumen starts oozing out in unexpected places – like beaver ponds and lakes and forests.  And the best part is,

“This is a new kind of oil spill and there is no ‘off button,’ ” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace who teaches a course on energy policy and environment at the University of Toronto. “You can’t cap it like a conventional oil well or turn off a valve on a pipeline.

“You are pressurizing the oil bed so hard that it’s no wonder that it blows out. This means that the oil will continue to leak until the well is no longer pressurized,” which means the bitumen could be seeping from the ground for months.

And would you believe that the media and photographers are being kept away from these blowout sites and that government scientists are afraid to speak out about them?

No one knows how to stop these tar-sands oil spills | Grist.
‘Nobody understands’ spills at Alberta oil sands operation | Toronto Star.

Leave It In The Ground

Tar Sands

The Tar Sands are a literal stain on our country’s landscape, and yet our political leadership has staked our entire economy on its development and expansion.  The process is wasteful, complicated, and throws off all kinds of toxic byproducts into our lakes, rivers and forests destroying ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

ThinkProgress on How To Make Gasoline From Tar Sands, In Six Simple Steps

After all of this, it takes as much as four tons of sand and four barrels of fresh water to make a barrel of synthetic oil, which is good for about 42 gallons of gas, or one fill up in a ’97 Suburban. The good news is about 10 percent of that water is recycled! (On the downside, the other 90 percent is dumped into toxic tailing ponds, which currently cover about 50 square kilometers [19 square miles] along the Athabasca River, and is leaking into the ecosystem at a rate of perhaps 11 million liters a day.)

This is nasty stuff, and our children will pay for our shortsightedness.