ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO STOP TAILINGS POLLUTION
The federal government has watched from the sidelines as oil producers accumulate their toxic waste in tailings “ponds”. Trillions of litres of tailings are stored in immense basins the size of lakes perched on the shores of the Athabasca River. To date, there is no credible plan for cleaning up this huge mess. Instead, the government is even considering allowing Industry to release their toxic waste into the river - after minimal treatment.
The toxic tailings contain dangerous chemicals such as mercury, arsenic and naphthenic acids. They sprawl over 300 sq-km of boreal forest, enough to cover the city of Vancouver 2.6 times over and leak millions of litres of toxic fluids every day. Earlier this year, a leak from one pond released 5.3 million litres of fluids, or two Olympic-sized swimming pools, in a single incident!
The tar sands tailings ponds in Alberta require immediate and urgent attention.
The impact of this pollution has so far fallen onto the downstream Indigenous communities, who experience high rates of cancers, respiratory illnesses and other severe health issues. We must tell the government that enough is enough. Oil producers have created this problem: they built tailings ponds that leak and allowed them to grow out of control. Industry must be held accountable for addressing this problem in a safe and responsible way instead of being given a cheap way out.
Tell the Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, to safeguard Indigenous communities and the environment from any further exposure to the toxic tailings.
The federal government has a role to play in addressing the important health and environmental threats the tailings ponds pose. Let’s call on them to follow the guidance of scientists and downstream Indigenous Nations, using all the tools at their disposal to curb toxic tailings pollution.
Your message will be sent to: Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, and Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health