Jennifer Grant/Pembina Institute
A mine in the Alberta oil sands. The tailing ponds from these mines are leaking water into the Athabasca River, a new Canadian study says.

Large Dams of Mining Waste Leaking Into Athabasca River: Study

Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee

Since then, the Alberta government has persistently failed to contain their growth. Premier Alison Redford recently told a Washington, D.C. audience that the dams would "disappear from Alberta's landscape in the near future."

But the Pembina Institute reports that mining waste is projected to grow by more than 40 per cent over the next two decades.

To date, the Alberta Energy Regulator has not enforced new rules introduced in 2009 to shrink the volume of mining waste produced by the energy project. When oilsands developers failed to meet new targets curtailing mining waste set for 2013, no fines were levied.

In a special edition of Geoscience Canada, University of Toronto geologist Andrew Miall described the ponds as "some of the largest man-made disruptions of the Earth's surface, easily seen from space (visible using Google Earth), a major hazard for birds, and a continuing concern regarding the potential for leakage into the surface water system."

Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about the tar sands since 1998. His best-selling book, Dirty Oil, was the first to document significant leaks from the tailing ponds into groundwater and the Athabasca River. Reprinted with permission from The Tyee.


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