Canadian tailings pond causes toxic fears
CALGARY, Alberta (UPI) -- A tailings pond at a Canadian oil sands facility may be leaking toxic sludge into its surroundings, environmental activists say
The pond, located in a remote area of Alberta, contains toxic waste from the Horizon oil sands project operated by Calgary's Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday
The tailings pond has been in operation for about a year. It has berms on three sides but is open on the western side where Canadian Natural Resources says topography and clay beneath the surface are sufficient to contain tailings in that section of the pond
Such a setup is allowed under a plan approved six years ago by Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board
But environmentalists and members of local First Nation bands aren't convinced
"I feel like I want to cry," Fort McKay First Nation band Councilor Mike Orr said. "I grew up on the land. That's the way I was brought up -- to live off the land"
He and others say they worry about toxins entering the food chain
Water expert and ecologist David Shindler from the University of Alberta agrees
"This is such a big area," Schindler said. "Some of those chemicals have to be seeping into groundwater and Environment Canada should step in"
A spokesman for Environment Canada said the department would assess the tailings pond to ensure it complies with federal laws
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