The oilsands controversy began several months ago when scientists and some First Nations leaders voiced concerns about a growing number of deformed fish in the Athabasca River, located downstream from the oilsands.
According to a recent story in the Calgary Herald, the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP) has been criticized for not releasing enough information about the deformities. According to RAMP member Dave Ealey, who’s also a spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the number of deformities has been “relatively consistent” for more than a decade. Meanwhile, CBC News reports that University of Alberta water expert David Schindler’s studies have linked river toxins to the deformed fish.
Now, the CBC is reporting the province is changing how the water will be monitored and is in the process of creating a new panel. “With the growth of development, we need to ensure the oilsands are being managed under the closest scrutiny and oversight,” Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner said Monday, Dec. 20, in Calgary, as reported by the CBC. “Our ultimate goal is to build a world-class monitoring, evaluation and reporting system so that we can meet the environmental challenges we face in Alberta.”
According to RAMP, the pollutants found in the river occur naturally and deformities are a product of fatigue caused by spawning, while Schindler argues that the toxins he detected could only be missed by an incompetent study.
In the interim, the data collected by RAMP is set to be released in January.