Oilsands report leaves no one unscathed

'The absence of proof does not mean proof of absence'

A new report on Alberta’s oilsands by Royal Society of Canada scientists takes aim at government oversight, industry responsibility and environmentalist hysteria.

The seven-member panel criticizes the federal and provincial governments’ monitoring of the oilsands, noting, “…environmental regulatory capacity… does not appear to have kept pace with the rapid expansion of the oilsands industry of the past decade.”

Despite industry claims, land reclamation of surface mining and in-situ development “has been slow and a cause for concern,” though there is a “high potential” for successful reclamation.

Less likely to succeed? Carbon capture and storage. The province’s panacea for reducing greenhouse gas emissions “will not be sufficient to eliminate projected GHG emissions” from the oilsands over the next decade, says the report.

The panel also says “there is no credible evidence” to support claims of excess cancer in Fort Chipewyan being caused by contaminants released by oilsands operations.”

However, Dr. John O’Connor, who voiced concerns about elevated cancer rates in the aboriginal community in 2006, disagrees, saying no conclusive studies have been done.

“When they said there is no credible evidence, they haven’t looked for evidence,” he says. “No one has actually looked for evidence. The absence of proof does not mean proof of absence.”


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