"All new approvals should be halted until the shortcomings are addressed and independent monitoring systems and environmental limits are put in place," says Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, in response to the report.
Ottawa (19 January 2011) - In mid-December the Royal Society of Canada released its report entitled: Environmental and Health Impacts of the Oilsands Industry.
"(T)he scientists of the Royal Society of Canada confirmed that there are many serious gaps in the environmental assessment, regulation and monitoring of Canada's oilsands industry," said Simon Dyer, policy director of the Pembina Institute.
"To date Governments' attempts to address the deficiencies highlighted by the Royal Society panel have been ineffective, with a much greater emphasis on expanding oilsands development rather than on ensuring the environment and Canadians are protected," said Jennifer Grant, oilsands director of the Pembina Institute.
"The Alberta and Federal governments have already approved a doubling of oilsands developments. All new approvals should be halted until the shortcomings are addressed and independent monitoring systems and environmental limits are put in place," said Simon Dyer.
Sierra Club Canada joins with the Royal Society in calling for improved environmental assessment, enforcement of regulations, studies of impacts on ground and surface water and monitoring of health impacts. "Repeated throughout the report is a call for more study of the impacts and greater access to information," said John Bennet.
"The report noted the Alberta's requirements for environmental assessment are less stringent than what World Bank requires for projects in developing countries. It also states that the capacity of the Alberta and federal governments to properly monitor and regulate the tar sands are inadequate."
"No new scientific research was undertaken by the Royal Society of Canada in preparing this report. It depended on inadequate and often industry provided data."
"There is an obvious gap in the amount of independent studies and Indigenous traditional knowledge available for review regarding the impacts from these operations." comments Dustin Johnson, Energy campaigner. "This report helps to justify why we need to see a moratorium on new tar sands projects until more holistic information can be gathered and assessed."
"This report seems to downplay some of the only independent scientific research done on the Athabasca water systems and traditional food sources in the area." stated Eriel Deranger of the Rainforest Action Network. "Both Schindler and Timoney have found elevated levels of contaminants in the watershed, a critical habitat for fish, waterfowl and other large mammals that many of the First Nations people rely on - it is very concerning to see scientists of this stature try to undermine this evidence."
"Despite the conclusions within this report, the truth is that how these tar sands are affecting local people and their traditional lands can only be described as deadly. There has been a clear lack of participation by our Elders and knowledge holders in the review of tar sands impacts, undermining an honest and holistic assessment of what is really going on in this region," asserted Alice Martin, Cree Elder. "What is terrible is that this report suggests that the Indigenous people who have the traditional knowledge, the people of the land, do not know what they are talking about when it comes to the environmental and health impacts in there community! It is evident that the ugly truth about the tar sands is not what the government wants to hear, because it will impact the economy in a negative way, but the question is how will this lack of truth impact the people who have lived for generations on this land?"
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Download the Report: The Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel findings on Environmental and Health Impacts of Canada's Oilsands Industry - click to download