Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Alberta Oil Sands & The Great Lakes Basin

Oct 8: The Program on Water Issues at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto held a conference today (October 8) entitled, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes Basin: Pipelines, Refineries and Emissions to Air and Water. A record of the conference proceedings, including questions and answers, will be uploaded to the Program on Water Issues website following the event.

The conference announcement indicates that refineries in the Great Lakes Basin are rapidly expanding to accommodate crude oil from the Alberta oil sands. The conference is intended to provide an opportunity, in a university setting, to inform public opinion about the impacts of refinery expansion in the Basin, drawing on data analysis, shared information and public discussion. Emphasis will be placed on the cumulative effect of refinery expansions on water quality, air quality and human and non-human downwind communities in the Basin. The conference will provide a bilateral opportunity for interactive public comment and dialogue from experts involved in a wide range of disciplines. The conference begins with a presentation of the Conference Paper by the author, journalist David Israelson. Panel members representing government, environmental sciences, law, non-government organizations, academia, industry and the business community will share points of view on issues relating to the refinery expansion.

Access the Program on Water Issues website for complete information (
click here). Access the Conference Paper (click here).

Electric Fish Barrier Fraught With Problems

Oct 5: A lengthy and detailed article by Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores the myriad of problems associated with the $9 million electric fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal designed to halt the advance of the Asian Carp from reaching Lake Michigan. Fraught with delays, cost overruns and potentially project-busting safety concerns the barrier remains nonoperational. New concerns about potential electrification of barge workers or possible sparks and electrical currents reaching flammable barge loads cannot apparently be disproven. In the meantime, the giant Asian Carp continues to advance within a two-day swim of Lake Michigan and 15 miles from the new barrier.

According to the article, "The carp, meanwhile, are thriving in the region's rivers by the tens of millions. They can be found about 45 miles downstream from Lake Michigan, squeezing aside native fish populations and ruining rivers for recreation because of their penchant for porpoising out of the water and battering boaters."

Access the complete article (
click here).