Environment Canada’s document indicates pollutants near oil sands

On Monday a document obtained from Environment Canada confirmed what scientists from the University of Alberta published in 2010: there is mounting evidence of contaminants in the snow and in precipitation close to oil sands facilities, reports Postmedia News agency.

According to the media outlet, which quotes an internal federal document, the government’s researchers were discouraged from talking to reporters about their results which were presented at a November 2011 conference in Boston of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

It also said that researchers were provided scripted answers to use when asked about the issue – emphasizing it was better to decline answering questions about the cost of a monitoring system or the role and actions of Environment Canada, in charge of environmental policies and programs as well as preserving and enhancing the natural environment and renewable resources.

The original studies, led by University of Alberta scientists Erin Kelly and David Schindler, analyzed winter snow and found that contamination levels were highest near oil sands development than in places further away.

Last September, the province of Alberta enacted legally enforceable pollution limits for its oil sands region, but industry figures have suggested they will soon be breached by emissions of two major gases causing acid rain.