October 30, 2013

In-situ oilsands mines may skirt environmental assessments

Source: The Hamilton Spectator (Ontario, Canada), October 26, 2013
Posted on:

The federal government has confirmed it is backing away from assessing the environmental impact of new oilsands projects, one day after acknowledging it won’t come close to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

A final list of the types of projects that will require a federal environmental assessment was released Friday. The list contains no mention of in-situ oilsands mines, which are expected to be the industry’s most common type of development in the future.

“This is the largest single source of (greenhouse gas) growth in the country and yet the federal government is not going to be playing a role there,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

On Thursday, Environment Canada released a report concluding that Canada is on pace to get halfway to its 2020 emissions target under the Copenhagen accord.

In-situ mines involve heating underground bitumen deposits enough to soften them so they can be pumped up. In some ways, they are considered more environment-friendly. They require no vast open pits or tailings ponds of toxic water.

Environmentalists have pointed out they still result in habitat fragmentation on the surface through seismic lines and roads to wellheads. But their biggest impact results from heating the bitumen, usually through steam. Generating that steam burns a lot of natural gas, increasing the carbon intensity of the resulting barrel of oil.

The industry’s gradual shift toward in-situ production is generally blamed for a recent rise in the average amount of carbon dioxide released per barrel of oilsands crude. About 80 per cent of the resource can only be recovered using in-situ methods.

Alberta government figures say in-situ production creates anywhere from one to 10 more kilograms of CO{-2} per barrel than open-pit mining.

Stewart said there are also unanswered questions about some in-situ techniques. He points to a Canadian Natural Resources project that has been leaking bitumen for months near Cold Lake, Alta., despite attempts to stop it.

Large expansions to existing open-pit mines will still be reviewed. As well, the federal environment minister has discretion to call a review into any project if the minister feels it is warranted. And all new oilsands projects will still be reviewed by Alberta.


March 30, 2011

Condo board going after municipality for damages

Source:, March 29, 2011
By: Shirley Lin

Days after a petition was launched by Penhorwood owners demanding action from the municipality, the condo board has released details about the ongoing lawsuit indicating why it feels the city is responsible.

An affidavit from October 2008 by condo board member Al Penner, the main liaison for the owners, was uploaded Monday following the statement of claim against the 24 defendants in the four and a half-year ongoing lawsuit. The condo board is seeking $5 million in general damages and or restitutions and $500,000 in punitive damages.

In the statement of claim, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Alberta Permit Pro, which issues construction permits on behalf of RMWB, is being sued as one. The developers include Alberta Ltd., Prairie Communities Corp., and Dome Britannia Properties within whom Gary Nissen, Evan Welbourn, and builder David Marshall held positions in.…

December 16, 2010

Children’s Hospital Unit Quarantined Because of Swine Flu Outbreak

Source: CBS News, Canada, July 7, 2009

Officials have isolated a unit on the third floor of the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary because of three swine flu cases.

The hospital has stopped admitting new patients to the unit, which usually treats children with kidney problems, because one staff member and two children are confirmed to have swine flu, said Don Stewart, a spokesman with Alberta Health Services, on Tuesday.

Patients already there have been isolated, and only their parents or close family are being allowed to visit them.

The unit has been contained, and infection prevention control measures are underway, added Stewart. Alberta has registered more than 1,000 cases of swine flu since the influenza outbreak began in Mexico in March.

On Monday, health officials confirmed the death of an Edmonton-area woman with chronic pre-existing medical conditions as the second fatality in the province associated with swine flu.

Every year, 4,000 Canadians die from the flu and a high percentage of them have underlying conditions that play a large part in making them susceptible to complications associated with the flu, he said.…