The Alberta Government and the oilsands industry have long claimed that pollutants found in the Athabasca River were from natural sources rather than the result of industry practices. A new study† led by Erin Kelly and David Schindler of the University of Alberta proves them wrong:
High levels of toxic pollutants in the Athabasca River system are linked to oilsands mining, researchers have found.
The findings counter the reports by a joint industry-government panel that the pollutant levels are due to natural sources rather than human development.
Mercury, thallium and other pollutants accumulated in higher concentrations in snowpacks and waterways near and downstream from oilsands development than in more remote areas, said a study to be published Monday afternoon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Upstream and undeveloped sites exposed directly to the McMurray Geologic Formation, the natural source of the oilsands, did not show high levels of pollutants.