January 22nd, 2021

Cleaning up the world’s biggest natural oil spill

By Letter to the Editor on February 24, 2020.

We are dealing with the biggest oil spill in the world, yet everybody is against cleaning it up. Why?

It is dirty oil. The tarsands of the western provinces of Canada are the biggest natural oil spill in the world. Other than the Los Angeles Tar Pits, and a site here or there around the world, there is no oil found naturally on the surface. The Athabasca tarsands is the largest oil deposit on the Earth, larger than the Arabian oil deposits. The problem here is that they are on and near the surface.

A bigger problem arises when we look at where they are and what is happening. The Athabasca River flows through the deposit, into Lake Athabasca, then on with the river system into Great Slave Lake. From there the Mackenzie River takes the leached oil all the way into the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk. Since the time of the deposit, it has slowly been leaking oil into the river system. People asked about the pollution of the Athabasca River in the 1960s. The first efforts to extract oil from the deposits were started a few years after, at great expense, because the oil extracted cost more than the price on the market. The province was forced to support the effort.

It will take a long time and a lot of mines to extract and clean all of the oil deposit. When you consider the task, the oil extraction plants are reclaiming nature’s blotch on the world. If the world can use it, we should be happy to get it out of there, because in a time when oil becomes a product unwanted, we need to move and store it.

Moab, Utah had a uranium mine. The tailings were dumped in a pile next to the Colorado River. Over the years the radioactive material leached into the river pollution the Colorado all the way to Mexico. That was a tiny pile of tailings, costing the U.S. government $125 million to move. The tarsands cover a huge area. Should the oil be extracted, or should it all be moved to a dry are, like the Palliser triangle, at a pricetag of trillions?

The actual reclaimed areas behind the mines are showing better growth. What does it take to clean up the Earth’s mistakes?

Walter Kerber


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you know, walter, i often appreciate your ravings…but not here. this echoes a most stupid chain email that was floating around a while ago. nature was doing well dealing with the so-called “spill”. it was when greed stepped in that the poisoning and ruin emerged. not saying the tar could not be mined, just saying that it needed to be mined with care. the proof is in the sticky pudding…as i noted in another post, we unfortunately allowed the land and water to be ransacked like it was an air bnb party rental.


It has been seeping into the lakes, rivers, streams and muskeg. For those who have never been in the bush in that area, such as biff I am sure, we would canoe down the river and see the tar seeping from the banks in areas and oily spotting in the water, wildlife would get stuck in the tarpits and die. And when winter thaws came, all that oily substance from the land flowed into the rivers and lakes with the runoff. But those that have not being to the area are clueless and just like attacking people like the sheep they are!
Of course no one talks about the reclaimed land that is reforested with natural fauna!

Interesting point regarding Los Angeles . . . which has over 3,000 active oil wells in LA county and producing wells scattered throughout the city itself . . . no one protesting them!

No one protesting the US having one of the most aggressive drillingfracking programs in the world or becoming the world’s number one producer . . . or the new LNG plants being built or built to ship to overseas markets . . . Canada and Alberta have been under attack for GREED!

These sheep that have been brainwashed by US billionaires who want to control the market and restrict Canadian access to international markets are the same ones the scream foul when budgets get slashed by governments due to loss of revenues!

Meanwhile, those same US billionaires come in and invest in major green energy projects so they can control the green energy markets the same as they controlled the petroleum industry!

GREED . . .not the environment!!! The oilsands projects have been under attack by US billionaires since 2008 and has cost Canadians hundreds of billions of dollars . . . the Rockefellers, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Hewlett and Packards and even the Soros . . . BAAAHHHH BAAAHHHH


Perfect timing to support your letter Walter! This is a great read by Rex Murphy- National Post



isn’t this the reality: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/11/23/news/alberta-officials-are-signalling-they-have-no-idea-how-clean-toxic-oilsands-tailings
and, here is a link to a dumb article in a dumb magazine written by a dumb journalist. 3 barrels of water for one barrel oil; very little of the land reclaimed; significant upheaval to ecosystems, the environment, and of course, to indigenous folk…
here are a few excerpts:
– Scattered along the banks of the Athabasca River is one of the world’s largest collections of tailings waste ponds—able to fill more than 500,000 Olympic swimming pools.
– Although some companies have invested significantly in technology to address the tailings problem, that has not put a dent in the scale of the problem, according to the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based energy think tank. The overall volume of tailings has kept growing for more than 50 years. Some ponds are leaking into the Athabasca River, says Paul Belanger, a former oil sands worker and current co-chair of Keepers of the Athabasca, an organization of indigenous peoples and environmentalists.
– Abel argues: By law, he says, oil sands producers must reclaim the land when they are finished with their operations. Only a small fraction of the mined land has been reclaimed so far, however.
and here from the edmonton journal https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-hold-energy-industry-responsible-for-clean-up-costs
– Threaded through our spectacular province are 450,000 conventional oil sites, 200,000 kilometres of pipelines, and then there are the tailings ponds, which have over one trillion litres of water in them. And there is very little money set aside to clean up these sites at their end of life.
btw, ew – i am still trying to clean myself of the spittle from the rex murphy myopic.