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Edmonton – Greenpeace is asking provincial and federal governments to postpone hearings on Total’s proposed new tar sands mine. The move follows the announcement this week of a federal scientific panel to study the tar sands effects on water, and calls by First Nation leaders and Hollywood Director James Cameron for a moratorium.
The Total hearing, which began last week, would add a 7000-hectare mine site and a massive tailings lake to the already stressed tar sands region.
“At Wednesday’s press conference, First Nations leaders and James Cameron made a clear call for a halt to new tar sands approvals and for not adding another toxic tailing lake to an already devastated region,” said Melina Laboucan Massimo, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. “Given that the federal government set up a panel yesterday to look into the impacts of tar sands mining operations on fresh water, the provincial government should postpone the Total hearing at least until the panel reports on water impacts. The Alberta government needs to listen to those most directly impacted by the tar sands and not add to the damage.”
The Total hearing is expected to last three weeks. If approved Total’s Joslyn Mine would spew 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, release 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste, and remove and pollute up to 22 billion litres of fresh water from the Athabasca River each year, in addition to destroying 7000 hectares of boreal forest – equivalent to 13,000 football fields. Albertans would get the environmental destruction while shareholders outside the province would get most of the money Total would generate by selling the bitumen.
“If the Alberta government is serious about its claim that it wants to eliminate tailings for open pit mines, it needs to postpone this hearing until it can be shown it can be done without creating 12.5 billion litres of toxic tailings waste,” said Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. “It’s time the government ended its denial campaign and started to listen to the growing mountain of concerns building against the tar sands industry.”
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which is running the Total hearing, currently has a 100 per cent approval rating for tar sands projects.
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