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Canada moves on Utah's tar sands

By Colin Ricketts - 24 Feb 2014 7:35:0 GMT
Canada moves on Utah's tar sands

The double arch of Utah's Arches National Park helps to point out that tourism and nature are possible more important than the short term gains on the profit sheets of an oil company;Utah image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The mess created by Canadian extraction of tar sands is about to be joined by a 2000 barrel a day mess in Utah. Strip mining of the earth involves the extraction of mainly sand and clay, but 10% of the earth taken will contain crude bitumen. Bitumen is one of the lower fractions of crude oil and has to be treated to create yet more mess, in the form of piles of fine carbon dust, pet coke or mine tailings. The inevitable product is 3X the amount of carbon dioxide, compared to the extraction of crude oil.

If the thought of global warming puts you off, just wait till the ground water becomes contaminated. Rather like the fracking debacle, people have discovered that the mine tailings, as they sit in ponds, leak down into the water able in some areas.

The result, according to experts in the World Watch Institute, is that, "the high concentrations of pollutants such as naphthenic acids, which are found at concentrations 100 times greater than in the natural environment, are acutely toxic to aquatic life, yet the government has no water quality regulations for these substances... How this tailings waste, and its grave risks, might be dealt with in the long term remains unknown." The Utah situation is such that using the necessary vast amounts of fresh water (116 gallons per minute) would cripple the drought-stricken western US. Such a high cost in energy and water, simply to destroy the environment and produce huge piles of waste seems a little extravagant for this low-grade fuel. US Oil Sands, (somehow located in Toronto) and The Kentucky-based Arrakis Oil Recovery must love this low-grade to cater for their high-greed.

Our previous tar sand writ-ups included the Alberta situation itself as Pet coke expands, and pollutes everywhere. However we found Alisha Mims writing about these shenanigans in Ring of Fire Radio!.