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Oil sands pollution two to three times higher than thought

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Posted February 4, 2014
A bus carrying workers heads towards the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility in Alberta Province, Canada on October 22, 2009
A bus carrying workers heads towards the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility in Alberta Province, Canada on October 22, 2009
The amount of harmful pollutants released in the process of recovering oil from tar sands in western Canada is likely far higher than corporate interests say, university researchers said Monday.

Actual levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emissions into the air may be two to three times higher than estimated, said the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

The study raises new questions about the accuracy of environmental impact assessments on the tar sands, just days after a US State Department report said the controversial Keystone pipeline project to bring oil from Canada to Texas would have little impact on climate change or the environment.

Current, government-accepted estimates do not account for the evaporation of PAHs from wastewater pools known as tailings ponds, which are believed to be a major source of pollution, said researchers at the University of Toronto.

According to corporate interests which are responsible for projecting their environmental impact, the Athabasca oil sands beneath Alberta, Canada—which hold the third largest reserve of crude oil known in the world—are only spewing as much pollution into the air as sparsely populated Greenland, where no big industry exists.

Read more at: Phys.org

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