Friday, October 15, 2010
The Tar Sands: a Waste of Water
I've talked a lot about the enormous GHG emissions of the tar sands. However, the tar sands are also depleting our clean freshwater. The great majority of the tar sand sare located in the Athabasca region. It just so happens that the Athabasca watershed is situated in the same place. Naturally, bitumen, which IS the tar sands, needs to be refined, with a heavy use of water. It takes four barrels of water to produce every barrel of oil from the tar sands. This water is drawn from Canadian rivers.After the transformation of bitumen into oil, the water, along with many other "leftovers" of the process is dumped into tailing ponds that look something like this:
These tailing ponds are often quite close to the freshwater supply. Chemicals could easily leak into the drinking water of communities further downstream. Yet nothing is done about the waste and pollution of water that the tar sands cause. What we need is environmental taxes, to make sure that the polluters don't get away with wasting and leeching chemicals into our drinking water. Wasting and polluting water should not be tolerated, especially when the world will need more as we move into the future. Water should be used in a smart way, and not polluted. The tar sands are a prime example of those who waste water and it doesn't look pretty either.