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Oilsands mean high profits, but also pollution

In 1967, a new age began for Canada's oil industry when the oilsands of Alberta finally began yielding their long-sought riches. As the environmental and health impacts of oilsands production emerged, scientists looked for ways to obtain the oil more cleanly. Today the oilsands keep Alberta's economy humming, but opponents say it's a dirty business whose true cost has yet to be realized.

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Boreal forests have been stripped, freshwater supplies are depleted and greenhouse gases are on the rise. Enormous tailings ponds dot the landscape and Lake Athabasca is contaminated, threatening the health of people living nearby. These are among the side effects of the Alberta oilsands 40 years after oil companies first began mining them. This 2007 CBC News documentary demonstrates the mounting environmental costs of a tremendously profitable industry that shows no sign of slowing down.

• According to the Government of Alberta website, the approximately 140,200 square kilometres of the three major oilsands areas in Alberta could yield enough oil to meet Canada's current demands for almost 400 years.

• Fort Chipewyan is located approximately 280 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, on the northwestern tip of Lake Athabasca. The population of 1,000 draws from the Métis, Chipewyan and Cree nations. Although there is employment in the resource industries and government, trapping and fishing still provide food sources for some residents.

• The oilsands generated royalties worth $1.9 billion during 2009-2010, and are expected to return as much as $184 billion over the next 25 years.

 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 12, 2007
Guest(s): Simon Dyer, Ray Ladouceur, Rob Renner, David Schindler, Greg Stringham, Kevin Timoney
Anchor: Wendy Mesley
Reporter: Darrow MacIntyre
Duration: 23:05

Last updated: June 2, 2014

Page consulted on January 6, 2015

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