Sierra Club Canada shocked at new tar sands proposal

EDMONTON - Despite widespread concerns about treaty rights violations, health concerns and environmental impacts from existing Tar Sands projects, the government of Alberta will be considering once again another proposal for a huge tar sands mine and toxic tailings lake. The project, proposed by oil and gas giant TOTAL, is set to go to hearing on September 21st, 2010.

"It has barely been a week after the Syncrude guilty verdict, exposing serious concerns with the lack of regulation and enforcement in the tar sands and yet instead of slowing down and thinking about fixing the problems, this government wants to push full steam ahead with more development," exclaimed Sheila Muxlow, Director with the Sierra Club Prairie. "It is nothing short of irresponsible."

The proposal includes a huge open pit mine and toxic tailings lake just outside of Fort McMurray. Tailings lakes have been linked with the poisoning of adjunct rivers and contributing to adverse health effects in area communities. Last week, Syncrude’s tailings lakes were linked to the deaths of over 1600 ducks in a landmark court ruling.

"It’s completely irresponsible for the government to consider another tailings proposal especially given the gaping holes that were revealed throughout the Syncrude duck trial,” said Sheryle Carlson, Associate Director with the Sierra Club Prairie “If the government approves this project it will have once again shown that its directives are meaningless, its words hollow, and that tar sands companies call the shots and write the regulations. It’s time the government stopped forcing us down this toxic path and started building a green energy future that we can all live and breathe in.”

Total’s proposal comes amid rising concern from local communities of the health risks from tar sands projects. Concerned residents have demanded that Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board postpone further development until studies are conducted on base line health and cumulative effects in the region.

"It is only reasonable that we as a public would want to be fully informed about the impacts of these projects,” said Ms. Muxlow. “Under the present hearing process this isn't even possible since the ERCB does not look at cumulative effects, but rather views things on a project by project basis."

To date the ERBC has approved 100% of tar sands proposals.

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Sheila Muxlow
Interim Director
Sierra Club Prairie

Robb Barnes
Communications Intern
Sierra Club Canada
613.241.4611 x230