Research in 2010 by Dr. David Schindler, a leading environmental scientist previously employed by the Alberta Government, established that tar sands contaminants were present in a large area around the mines. The Alberta Government criticized his findings on the ground of bias and professional credibility. The principal reason for this criticism was that the contaminants he identified in his research could equally be naturally occurring.
Now a recent report from the Federal Government scientists corroborates Dr. Schindler’s findings. The report concludes that the tar sands mines and tailing ponds are in fact the source of contaminants.
Naturally the Federal Government scientists do not wish to criticize their Alberta colleagues. Dr. Schindler is not under any such constraint. He uses this new Federal research to conclude that the monitoring program in which Alberta and the fossil fuel industry participate has been poorly executed.
“The studies that have been done have been very poor, using poor statistical design, inadequate sampling, and chemical methods with poor limits of detection.”
Still the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers urges that the report is not conclusive. According to their spokesperson, further detailed work is required to evaluate its accuracy and adequacy for tracking oil sands process water.
A variant of the old excuse for doing nothing: the science is not settled.
Read more on the adequacy of the Alberta Regulatory Agency