Alberta to increase oil sands monitoring after study finds contaminants

Study shows in-situ bitumen extraction released low levels of toxins into a small lake near Cold Lake, Alta.

August 30, 2016   by CP Staff

EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it will increase environmental monitoring of in-situ oil sands plants following research that shows they can release contaminants into the land and water.

A study shows that bitumen extraction using injected steam rather than open-pit mining released low levels of toxins into a small lake near an in-situ site near Cold Lake, Alta.

Bill Donahue of Alberta Environment says that’s enough to step up monitoring of all in-situ plants, which now produce more than half of Alberta’s bitumen.

Donahue says it’s crucial to know how potentially toxic chemicals are being released and where trouble spots might be.


The research concluded that levels of chemicals – including known carcinogens – more than doubled in the sediment of the lake since in-situ oil sands mining began in the area in the mid-1980s.

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