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Science and oil


 

Federal scientists have concerns about the expansion of the Jackpine oil sands mine.

In their final submissions to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, several federal departments say they still have questions about Shell’s plans. They include how growth in the industry has outpaced the company’s assessment of cumulative effects, how changing flow in the Athabasca River will affect contaminant levels and how well Shell is able to control effluent from artificial lakes that will be used to store tailings …

Shell has failed to look at the overall picture of how total development has already affected wildlife habitat, let alone the impacts of further expansions, says Environment Canada. Its document goes on to say that where those impacts are measured, Shell’s assessment minimizes them. For example, Shell says the amount of high-quality caribou habitat destroyed is of “low magnitude,” even though the company acknowledges the amount of those losses total about 40 per cent. “It is unclear how Shell Canada defines a 40 per cent loss … as a low-magnitude effect,” Environment Canada says.

And a scientist with the Department of Fisheries, whose job might be eliminated, is concerned about Northern Gateway and Enbridge’s planning for a potential spill.

Enbridge Inc.’s response plan for a potential spill of Northern Gateway oil into the pristine waters off British Columbia doesn’t take into account the unique oil mixture the pipeline would actually carry, documents show … Kenneth Lee submitted a research proposal last December saying the matter requires further study because Enbridge’s plan had “strong limitations due to inaccurate inputs.” “The Northern Gateway pipeline proposal lacks key information on the chemical composition of the reference oils used in the hypothetical spill models,” wrote Lee, head of DFO’s Centre for Offshore Oil Gas and Energy Research, or COOGER.


 

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