Canadian Tar Sands Look Like Tolkein’s Mordor Says UN Water Advisor

Submitted by Charles Frost on Sat, 01/31/2009 - 18:29.

Canadian Tar Sands Look Like Tolkein’s Mordor Says UN Water Advisor

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY on 11. 4.08Science & Technology Alberta’s tar sands
photo: WWF-UK, from the report Unconventional Oil: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel?

Environmental Defense has called  ‘the most destructive project on earth’, but perhaps the UN’s senior advisor on water, Maude Barlow, says it best. After a recent bus and helicopter tour of a tar sands operation in Fort McMurray she had one word to describe what she saw: Mordor. For those not up on the geography of Tolkein’s Middle-earth, or even Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings, Mordor refers to the nearly barren, devastated, stinking land wherein, beyond the Black Gate, lies Sauron’s fortress of Barad-dûr and the fires of Mount Doom...Whoa, geeking out there... This is how Maude Barlow described what she saw in real life:

Steam Rises From the Ground, No Birds Dare Fly Above
Upon returning from the tar sands tour, Barlow said she saw stream rising from the ground, with no birds in the sky or animals below, adding that she wasn’t being cute in describing the project in Tolkein-esque terms. We were devastated by what we saw and smelled and experienced. The air is foul, the water is being drained and poisoned and giant tailing ponds line the Athabasca River. What stunned me from the air is how close they are to the Athabasca River and what might happen if there was a spill.

Reclamation Efforts Touted
For their part, a spokesman tar sands producer Syncrude, one of whose sites Barlow toured, said that people don’t often know the reclamation efforts that go on, citing more than 45 square kilometers of land which has been reclaimed post-tar sands production.

Tar Sands Environmental Destruction Not Worth It
At the risk of sounding flippant, sounds like too little too late: I’ll stand by the WWF’s assessment that the economic and environmental costs of continuing to develop tar sands and oil shales—in energy speak ‘unconventional fuels’—are simply unthinkable.

via: The Star, Calgary Herald and EcoGeek