Federal scientists uncover evidence that oilsands contaminants travel further than expected

From the Calgary Herald, by Margaret Munro

Federal scientists have uncovered evidence that contaminants wafting out Alberta’s oilsands operations are collecting on the bottom of remote lakes up to 100 kilometres away.

A team led by federal scientist Jane Kirk, also of Environment Canada, will report that snow within 50 kilometres of oilsands operations is contaminated with a long list of “priority pollutants” including a neurotoxin that “bioaccumulates” in food webs.

Kirk’s colleague Joanne Parrott will report that melt water from snow collected near oilsand plants is toxic to newly hatched minnows in the lab.

But perhaps the most dramatic findings is that pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are building up in lake sediments up to 100 kilometres from the oilsands operations.

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