Oil industry monitoring body hides blinky the three-eyed fish - Macleans.ca

Oil industry monitoring body hides blinky the three-eyed fish

Hundreds of deformed animals found in Alberta rivers kept secret


The Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), the organization in charge of monitoring waterways running through Alberta oil sands developments, has found hundreds of examples of deformed fish, but has failed to notify the public or the government. A report by the RAMP says 915 fish with deformities, growths or other abnormalities have been found in the Athabasca river since 1987, a number greater then what the organization has indicated in its annual reports to the Alberta government. The organization has been widely criticized for being overly secretive and for selectively releasing information. “That is the problem. To get the actual data, you need the raw data,” not just annual reports, said Kevin Timoney, an Alberta ecologist and oil sands researcher. “They release just enough so they can say that they did, but they don’t give you enough to see what’s really going on.” The RAMP is currently under three reviews, one of which was ordered by former environment minister Jim Prentice after he was shown photos of mutated fish.

The Globe and Mail

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Oil industry monitoring body hides blinky the three-eyed fish

  1. Hey, where's Ethical Tar Levant to argue that the filthy tar sands are better than Middle Eastern oil?

    They should close down RAMP and start an oversight body made up mostly of scientists and the public, not lying oil industry shills and Conservative hacks.

    • Just so you know, I am a Conservative and I fully believe that we should take care for our environment and ensure that all companies follow proper procedures so as not to pollute it. I am a supporter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society as well as other initiatives that help to save/improve the world we live in.

      I think it is a shame and really ignorant that you label all Conservatives as lairs or indifferent to a world filled with pollution. Please stop listening to the Left's propaganda that Conservatives do not care about the environment and that we are all polluters. As an aside, my provincial NDP government has failed/refused to deliver on one of their election promises to secure a large area of land for a conservation park. Meaning, you will find people who don't care of abuse the environment in all political parties.

      • Oh, I know that politicians of all parties have fallen down on dealing with the environment, and the federal Liberals are guilty of neglect while they were in charge. But the Harper government is absolutely dreadful. They are not just commiting neglect, they are dragging us backwards and promoting a vast increase in pollution and in the poisoning of my own province of Alberta.

        I do not see how anyone who is concerned for our environment could support Harper and the lying denialists he is surrounded by. I am sure that his government is paying some people to hang out at forums and blogs and repeatedly lie about the tarsands and about climate change and about the current Conservative government. I am sorry if you do not like being lumped in with these vile people, but are you telling your Conservative Party that you want its policies to change? Are you telling them that you will vote for someone else if they do not change their behaviour?

        Jim Prentice has been my MP and he apparently got nowhere on dealing with the climate change crisis because of all the stupid fundmentalists in Harper's cabinet, including Harper himself. The current Conservatives are as destructive as hell, and we have to get rid of them.

        • So your answer is to shut down the oil sands and what – go back to burning coal? 50% of U.S. power generation is dirty coal, 75% for China and India.

          • We start by conserving energy and go bigtime into producing clean energy; solar, wind, hydro, geothermal. And stop subsidizing the oil companies. I do not know if we have to shut down the tarsands completely, but we should allow no new development there until the companies currently there have cleaned up their acts. And if they will not do so, then we shut them down.

          • Levants book was a good one with much in the way of citation, something the fear mongering anti-oil sands groups sorely lack. But regardless, in response to your notion that we go 'big time' on clean energy, it is not going to happen. Read page 14 of the paper back version of Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand. Starting on page 13: "Humanity currently runs on about 16 terawatts of power…." on the following page it adds up all the resources, space and time required to be able to put a dent in this within 25 years. To address your list: "Two terawatts of photovoltaic would require installing 100 square meters of 15% efficient solar every second, second after second, for the next 25 years." " two terawatts of wind? That's a 300 foot wind turbine every 5 minutes. ie install 105,000 turbines a year in good wind locations, times 25.) Geothermal or solar thermal options are not any better. And we need nuclear energy in there to contribute also. I'm sorry but Levant is correct for the mean time. It is ethical oil compared to where it's going to come from if you choose to shut down the oil sands.


          • Levant is a dishonest shill who has been fined for committing libel. And I don't believe what you are writing either.

          • Hmmmm. I don't believe what you are writing either then. Mind you, I didn't write it. I only mentioned that it has been written. But don't bother checking it out or anything. Wouldn't it just bug you to no end that you discovered you were wrong? Better to just plug along blindly.


          • Sigh…..Holly only sees in black or white. You posted some excellent facts.

            Nuclear will have to be part of the solution, my hope is thorium. It was being tested back in the 1940's but the powers that be wanted weapons thus the current use of uranium. http://www.thoriumenergy.org/

          • Yes Leo it's like arguing with religious people. Their minds are already made up. As much as they think they have the cure to whatever it is that ails us, unless they can see with (and use) reason, they are just a part of someone else's cult. Puppets for another's cause.

          • Actually it's rather an interesting irony that it was the environmental movement that killed nuclear energy. We would be so much further ahead of the 8 ball that is 'human caused' global warming if it weren't for the same fear mongering Holly uses (unintentionally really … she thinks sh'e doing good and I applaud her for that at least) in regards to the the oil sands.

          • How is he dishonest? Surely not just because his views disturb you? Do you even understand the case he is making in Ethical Oil? The world needs oil. They will get it from somewhere. Better the blood free accountable oil sands than the dictatorships that rape and pillage, not only their peoples, but the environment too.

          • Holly: And you may scoff: "How are they accountable??" (Without asking how they are accountable compared to….) They are accountable because they a publicly traded industry, susceptible to public sentiment, which you have some say in. (And bless you for that). This is why Capitalism rocks. The Hugo Chavez socialism sucks because it will not listen to you and so you you ignore it. Yet his system is responsible for more oil spills into the Gulf of Mexico than 20 BP catastrophes. You just don't hear about it. Why? Chavez is not accountable. He doesn't have to tell you anything. If your argument that the oil sands are bad for the world compared to other sources is persuasive enough, or even right, the oil sands will be shut down. But not only is this NOT the case, it's the only argument you can have, because your voice means nothing to the Nicaraguans, or the Chinese, or the OPEC nations who totally ignore your cries. You rail against the oil sands because you CAN. Because your little voice might make a difference. You don't fight the big fight though. You don't pick a fight you can't win, and hey, who am I to blame you? But please realize that in shutting down the oil sands, you are upholding something much more uglier. And this makes you ugly too.

          • I suspect Dave of the North's posts are paid political announcements; that or else he is the libeller Ezra Levant, making his disingenuous arguments.

            The world is going to need to get off its addiction to oil. Humans survived for millions of years without oil. We cannot survive for a week without water.

            Here in Canada we need good solid scientific information about what we are doing to our water and other essential parts of our environment. We need more research, and the Harper Conservatives have cut funding for research on climate. We need more facts and the stupid Harper Conservatives decided to destroy the mandatory long-form census so they can lie to us mnore easily, or perhaps because of Harper's stupid fundamentalist religious beliefs which include refusing to face reality.

            I don't know if the Stelmach Conservatives are also religious fundamentalist dimwits, probably some of them are, but they are just as greedy and corrupt as the Harper Conservatives and just as willing to betray Albertans and Canadians to the corporations and to the Americans.

          • I also notice you haven't actually addressed any of these so called disingenuous arguments. If they are so disingenuous, I assume it must be way beneath you to bother with, lest you take the arguments apart with solid reasoning instead of trying to sidetrack the issues with an irrelevant Wikipedia article. Surely if I knew you personally, I could dig through your past and find things to show others that would be less than flattering. It wouldn't make my case about the oil sands one way or the other…. but hey, anything for jab in the ribs I guess.


      • What is Conservatism? It is an ideology that promote self-interest before everything. The environment is not important in Conservatism; the pursuit of wealth is the sole driver of existence. This ideology appeals to people because we are by nature selfish. So, conservative argument are simple and easy to comprehend. We don't need to taxes to fund a community if everyone takes care of themselves. If everyone looks after themselves, there won't be a need to help the less fortunate.

    • To be fair, Mr. Levant doesn't argue that oil sands oil is cleaner than Middle Eastern oil, just more ethical. The question, I guess, is whether or not you feel that it is more ethical for a country to pollute less (which I don't really have context for), or for a country to be less abusive to its citizens.

      For me, all things being equal, I would prefer the latter. Certainly there does come a point in which the former becomes the latter. But until then, I don't buy diamonds from Africa, and, if at all possible, I would prefer to not buy oil from Africa either.

      • Allowing First Nations downstream to suffer a higher rate of rare cancers is not ethical. Especially when the governments have carefully avoided doing tests so they can plausibly deny that anyone is being poisoned by the tarsands.

        • Allowing First Nations downstream to suffer a higher rate of rare cancers is not ethical

          I agree, that is unethical. I don't disagree that it should be fixed. But you asked:

          Hey, where's Ethical Tar Levant to argue that the filthy tar sands are better than Middle Eastern oil?

          In my opinion (and probably in Mr. Levant's), possibly increasing the likelihood of some cancers in a small population is more ethical than the systematic and dogmatic oppression of fifty percent of your population, or regularly allowing the mutilation of young girls.

          That a small population of Canadians might have a slightly shorter life expectancy, is still better than say… The wholesale rape, torture, and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese.

          • Sorry, comparing our crimes to another country's crimes is not acceptable. The ONLY way to behave is to avoid committing such crimes in the first place. We are better than that.

          • We are better than that.

            I agree, but that wasn't the point you made. You suggested that Middle East oil was better than Canadian oil. Do you still believe this to be true?

          • Oil is not a moral thing. It is a resource and many people commit many crimes in extracting it. They exploit the local people, destroy their environments, make sure that only a few people actually benefit from the resources owned by all the people. Oil corporationstake our huge profits and give back a poisoned environment. Oil companies lie about what they are doing. This happens all over the world.

            And wherever the oil comes from, even if it was produced by fairies in sparkly outfits waving magic wands, the fact is that we have to stop using it. Our overuse of oil is causing an massive increase in CO2 emissions which is now making our earth warm up and causing drastic climate change. We are now getting more extreme weather events (ask the insurance companies) and we will have more flooding and more droughts and more crop failures and more wars for scarcer resources.

            So it doesn't matter where the oil comes from, using it is a suicidal act, and oil company apologists like Levant are merely helping us to cut our own throats.

        • The "higher rate of rare cancers" … where do you get your information from Holly? Please, not the good Dr. O'Connor who not only obstructed studies into his own allegations, but was shown to have completely fabricated much of his results? You do realize that, like in the Northwest Territories around the Norman Wells region, oil literally bubbled out of the ground and seeped into the Athebasca Watershed for thousands of years? That it's common historical knowledge that the natives of both areas used the oil to help waterproof their canoes? Or do you deny this to be true? If you do not deny it, isn't it as plausible that the oil that is found naturally in the watershed is at least part of the cause?

          Now I'm not a shill for the oil industry. I work in the fire protection industry in the Yukon, NT and NU. I was merely interested in learning about the oil sands, and environmentalism on the whole. Levant has some seriously good arguments backed up by citation and science. But the book I mentioned earlier, Whole Earth Discipline, spells out in very scary detail why we need better solutions than what you have proposed. It's also a book that shows there is hope for humanity.


          • About Ezra Levant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Levant#Libel_ca

            If he has science on his side, why does he feel the need to shriek and interrupt people when he discusses things in the media? I hope Soros sues him into the gutter.

          • If he has science on his side, why does he feel the need to shriek and interrupt people when he discusses things in the media?

            Because he's a hack and an opportunist barely above the level of Glen Beck, but that doesn't change the validity of his argument regarding the oil sands.

          • oooo Rob. Glen Beck? Really? I don't know Levant from Crusty the Clown besides the fact I read his book and looked into several of his citations. Glen Bec k on the other hand I do know something about so if you are making that comparison I'll have to assume you don't think very highly about Mr. Levant.

            But that's not the point and thank you for stating it. Holly doesn't address the issues. She can't. Levant is right about the oil sands in the arguments he makes. Holly chooses to move the goal posts and pretend.

          • No Ezra, you are wrong. Also transparent.

          • What can I say? I was a fan up until I started following him on Twitter. The man behaves like a child. And I I think that if that is representative of the talent, I don't think it bodes well for the future of SunTV.

            But that doesn't change the validity of the argument.

          • To argue that any oil is "ethical" is simply stupid. The point which the oil compnies want you to miss is that we have to use less oil because is is our burning of the oil which is causing global warming and climate change. It doesn't mater where the oil comes from, we have to use less; and that means conserving energy first, and working on clean energy alternatives. Both of these can be accomplished by a government of mature individuals working for the public good. With the lying stupid Conservatives in poser in Canada and in Alberta, we are truly screwed.

            And really, Rob, why would you believe anything Levant says, since he is a proven libeller? Check out this discussion with Levant and May. Elizabeth may have some weird political ideas, but she is solid on environmental issues. And she is not a proven libeller, or, as she calls Levant, "creative".

          • Sorry about the typos, I'm rushed for time.

          • I haven't accepted his claims regarding the cleanliness of the oil sands. And, I don't think that I've said here that we shouldn't reduce oil consumption. Which, I guess, is the problem with our argument.

            When you ask which is better, I agree with you that its clear that using oil anywhere isn't an ideal solution. But, given that right now our options are somewhat limited, I think that if we are going to use oil, we should at least be socially conscious when we spend our money, and avoid doing so in countries that are ethical in their treatment of their citizens.

            Whereas, the people Mr. Levant is fighting against, tend to yell and scream about the oil sands being arguably dirtier than elsewhere, but ignore the fact that when you buy oil from the Middle East you are supporting misogynistic, totalitarian regimes.

          • When you put gas in your car, do you know what country it came from? Do you know how much human misery it caused? Do you know how much CO2 was emitted in producing it? Do you know how much water and natural gas was wasted and how many toxins were produced to make it available to you?

            If you really want to judge how "ethical" your oil is, then you must force government to set up a rating system with labels on every gas pump showing all of these things. Which is bullsh1t of course, but the only way Levant's lies about "ethical" oil could have any meaningful use.

            Oil is not ethical no matter where it comes from. The only ethical thing is to use less of it and to find cleaner sources of energy.

          • The point about the tarsands being dirtier is that THEY PRODUCE MORE CO2 EMISSIONS AND THEY ARE CAUSING MORE GLOBAL WARMING. They are a worse danger to all of us than the conventional oil industry, but Levant doesn't have the honesty to tell us that. Does he even admit we are causing global warming in his book, or does he still agree with the dimwitted rightwingers who keep insisting that it is not happening, or does he tell the lie that scientists are not sure of it yet?

          • If you haven't had the opportunity yet, check out this debate between Ezra Levant and Elizabeth May regarding Ethical Oil.

  2. Oh, but this can't be true, a recent govt survey said the Athabasca was a very clean river…didn't see any of them drink out of it though.

    RAMP…isn't that the org that David Shindler recently trashed?

    • Schindler.

      • Kelly, Schindler et al:

        "…Conclusions. Contrary to claims made by industry and government in the popular press, the oil sands industry substantially increases loadings of toxic PPE to the AR and its tributaries via air and water pathways. This increase confirms the serious defects of RAMP (11–13), which has not detected such patterns in the AR watershed. Detailed long-term monitoring is essential to distinguish the sources of these contaminants and control their potential impacts on environmental and human health (13). A robust monitoring program to measure exposure and health of fish, wildlife, and humans should be implemented in the region affected by oil sands development (38, 39)…"

        • But we would rather get our oil from where then? I absolutely agree with your concern. I care for the same things you do. But what do you want? What do you want that can be addressed by reality?

    • Drink? God no the beaver urine alone is enough to stun a moose.

  3. The percentage of adult belugas in the St. Lawrence river with cancer is nearly a third, a level that surpasses that of humans living in the western hemisphere (23%).
    A study of one hundred carcasses done between 1984 and 1999 by researcher Daniel Martineau, a pathologist and professor of the faculty of veterinary medicine at the University of Montreal revealed that the tissues found in the belugas were contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

    These PAHs are made by five refineries, which are found to be in the Saguenay River. These contaminants were later found to be in the sediments of the river where the belugas attain food.

    “The population of belugas is always in a state of survival with a strong percentage of cancer in a fragile population. There are questions that arise for their existence”, specified the scientific Daniel Martineau after his delivered conference in the surroundings of doctors of natural science of the University of Quebec in Rimouski.

  4. The percentage of cancer— principally that of the digestive system— together with the population of belugas in the St. Lawrence that were the subject of research is 18%. In wild animals, one generally finds 2% with cancer.

    The population of belugas habiting in the St. Lawrence are more in danger than ever from being exposed to the contamination from large refineries in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

    The percentage of contamination of sediments in the Saguenay fjord is comparable of those existing in the industrial port of Osaka, Japan.

    Since 1986, there hasn't been a new study conducted about the content of PAHs in seas.

    The situation is such that the Commission of Work Health and Security (CWHS) now recognizes bladder cancer in the refinery workers as industrial illness caused by its PAH explosion.

    • Our governments have let us down badly on environmental monitoring and reseaarch.

  5. Two words: regulatory capture

    • Meaning what?

      • Wikipedia to the rescue once again. "Regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for large firms to produce negative externalities. The agencies are called Captured Agencies."

        • Ah, thank you. That is useful.

  6. "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish". CM Burns.

    Seriously though, never trust anyone who's pay check is reliant on delivering good news. Given the geological formations of the region, I'm wondering if this particular region was ever truly free of toxins.

    • The report by Kelly, Schindler et al definitely found major pollutants were being produced by the oil sands industry. Industry apologists like to claim it's all natural, but they are liars.

      • I believe Schindler said their intstrumentation wasn't good enough…which is kind of convenient really.

        • You mean the industry's instrumentation? Or the government's? It turns out the federal government lab monitoring the Athabasca River for decades was not testing for oilsands pollutants. The Environment Commssioner pointed that out. (I wonder why Harper hasn't fired him yet, maybe because he reports to the Auditor General?)

    • " I'm wondering if this particular region was ever truly free of toxins. "


    • Bingo M_A_D_world

    • If Andrew Nikiforuk says it, it must be true :-(

  7. It's "greater than," not "greater then."


    The Grammar Police

  8. I would like to see some data regarding cancer rates and animal deformities from the pre-oilsands era. I remember my parents telling me as I child that Alberta had higher rates of cancer in people than in other provinces, partly because of the lack of iodine in the region (which has been largely mitigated by using iodinised salt), and because of nuclear fallout from US above-ground nuclear weapons tests. Maybe an expert (i.e. someone university-educated in a relevant field) can explain what animals in the Athabasca region are affected by a lack of iodine in their diet, or which animals are more susceptible to deformation caused by nuclear fallout.

    As well, it is true that there was some natural pollution pollution in Athabasca region prior to industrialisation. I remember learning in a Canadian history course that the explorers and fur trappers in the region learnt of the bitumen sands from First Nations, and that the tarry substance could be seen on the shores of the rivers and lakes. The real question then becomes to what extent has industry increased pollution levels since pre-industrial times.

    • As I pointed out above, the scientists Kelly, Schindler et al found that the oil sands industry was producing a bunch of pollutants, and that therefore it is not all natural. You could go to the link I provided above and read the whole article.

      It is hard to compare to pre oil sands when the federal government lab spent decades measuring for pulp and paper pollutants but not for oil sands pollutants. You have to do different tests for different things.

      • "As I pointed out above….." You are very selective in your debates, and then when you finally make a point, you are so smug in your self righteousness that it's not even funny. Please. Make a point. But back it up with something. I admire your spunk. But you are not saying anything. You are the shill here.

        We need the oil sands. The oil sands are a better source of oil for all the right reasons then any other source. Prove me wrong. I'm open to what you have to say, as long as you actually HAVE something to contribute. You don't by the way. Not from what you've said so far at any rate.


  9. Your on the right track.
    In 1788, fur trader Alexander MacKenzie (who later discovered routes to both the Arctic and Pacific Oceans from this area) wrote: "At about 24 miles (39 km) from the fork (of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers) are some bituminous fountains into which a pole of 20 feet (6.1 m) long may be inserted without the least resistance. The bitumen is in a fluid state and when mixed with gum, the resinous substance collected from the spruce fir, it serves to gum the Indians' canoes." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athabasca_oil_sands

    • Bingo Leo

  10. Sorry Holly. I am what I said I am; just someone out to try and understand things. Yes the world is going to need to get off it's addiction to oil but you my dimwit friend are not offering any solutions. Oil doesn't just drive our cars and heat our homes. It's used in the creation of everything we use in our day to day lives. Give us an alternative Holly. Show us how it will work. Otherwise Levant is right and you are the flack making disingenuous arguments. And your citing of wikipedia to show a reason why you don't like Levant is in very poor taste. It doesn't show you are right one way or the other in regards to the oil sands. grow up some will you?

    • How about your lie that the tarsands companies are accountable. Did you not read the report which I linked to on this page stating that the industry-dominated RAMP was collecting deformed fish, but WAS NOT REPORTING THEM. So much for industry accountablility. So much for lying oil shills.