Tar Sands

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The Tar Sands (the oil lobby prefers to call them "Oil Sands" as the original word is biased by the criticism of the Anti-Tar Sands movement) represent the maybe dirtiest way to produce oil. In Northern Alberta (Canada) very rich deposits of soil containing oil can be found. The oil industry is currently exploiting these resources inconsiderately with the support and by invitation of the Albertan government.

As the Tar Sands industry is very energy hungry there are plans existing to build up the first nuclear power stations in Alberta to make the expansion of this industry possible.

The government of Alberta tries to argue for the new term more bad then good:

Oil sands or tar sands?

The hydrocarbon mixtures found in northern Alberta have historically been referred to as tar, pitch or asphalt. However, 'oil sands' is now used most often to describe the naturally occurring bitumen deposits. This helps distinguish it from the other terms, which are associated with distilled or man-made products, such as the mixtures used to pave roads.
Oil sands is an accurate term because bitumen, a heavy petroleum product is mixed with the sand. It makes sense to describe the resource as oil sands because oil is what is finally derived from the bitumen."
(Source: http://www.oilsands.alberta.ca/http://www.oilsands.alberta.ca/, viewed 18/06/09)

More probably is that "Tar Sands", a term used from the beginning by this industry and also by the critics of it, in the public's perception is too much connected with scandals and disastrous incidents polluting envoronment, killing animals and making people ill.
However, today the Tar Sands lobby (oil industry and governments) is concerned about using "Oil Sands" as a term instead of the original expression. In contrast, "Tar Sands" these days is mostly used by critics of this industry.
This remembers to the use of the terms for nuclear power in Germany: originally called "Atomkraft" ("atomic power") by everyone (governments, industry, scientists, critics), these days' pro-nuclear lobby claims that this is not the correct term, and that the right expression would be "Kernkraft" ("nuclear power"). Though, critics and the public, as well as historical sources use the termin "Atomkraft" while pro-nuclear people talk about "Kernkraft". (is there a similar discourse in English, too?)

Repression Against Critical Scientists

"The charge of “causing undue alarm” against a former Fort Chipewyan doctor for revealing concerns over higher than average cancer rates in the community has, after two years, still not been dismissed by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons (ACPS). That is in spite of an Alberta government study confirming higher than normal cancer rates there."

  • source: Slave River Journal: Will Dr. John O’Connor Ever Be Cleared? Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Impacts of the Tar Sands Industry - Quotations

Brian MacDonald:

"The fish stocks are gone and there are probably a number of different reasons for that. Part of it is the management system set up by the government and part of it is the predator system by which commercial fishermen are under it and part of it is pollution. The pollution is being dumped on us through the Fort McMurray area. A new pulp mill is being set up and whether it is Prince Albert or Meadow Lake, there are five pulp mills right around McMurray and the tar sands put out a lot of pollution and so that is a major factor on it."




Media Coverage