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Oil Sands Environmental Management Bibliography

The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA)partnered with the Oil Sands Research and Information Network (OSRIN) to create the new Oil Sands Environmental Management Bibliography, which includes documents relevant to the environmental management of oil sands development in Alberta. The majority of the documents focus on the mineable oil sands in the Athabasca deposit, though some documents relate to in-situ developments. This bibliography was last updated in November 2014.

10 m standpipe tests on oil sands tailings: Long-term experimental results and prediction

Year of Publication: 2009

Three large 10 m high standpipe tests were set up at the University of Alberta in 1982 to simulate large-scale compression behavior of oil sands tailings in a controlled environment. The objectives of the tests were to study material behavior and to provide consolidation performance for theoretical verification. Three tailings materials (fine tailings and two mixes of fine tailings and sand) were used. Test results showed that the fine tailings, standpipe 1, strained more than 30% over a 25 year monitoring period by self-weight with very little to no effective stress developing, while the mix of fine tailings and sand, standpipe 3, compressed with a significant effective stress development. The tailings in standpipe 1 can be regarded as a class of material where a reduction in volume is not governed by a unique relationship between effective stress and void ratio, whereas the tailings in standpipe 3 can be categorized as slurry with conventional behavior. To investigate the capability of the finite strain consolidation theory on these tailings, a numerical model with appropriate material constitutive relationships was developed and used to make predictions. Numerical results, compared with the performance of the standpipe tests, indicated that the theory overestimated the compression behavior of the standpipe 1 material, but it could predict the standpipe 3 consolidation behavior.

2-D modeling of freeze-up processes on the Athabasca River downstream of Fort McMurray, Alberta

Year of Publication: 2010

This study is part of a three year project aimed to assess the effects of industrial water withdrawals on the ice regime of the Athabasca River. A 2-D numerical model was used to provide quantitative data for this effort. Freeze-up monitoring was carried out over two years along 80-km of the river from Fort McMurray to Bitumount. Summer bathymetric and winter ice surveys were conducted along with discharge measurements on a 5-km long detailed study reach that exhibited the full range of ice cover initiation processes. The data collected was used to build a CRISSP2D river ice process model for the simulation of freeze-up processes. An extensive parametric assessment was carried out to evaluate the capabilities of the model. Although it was not possible to simulate bridging, the simulated border ice agreed very well with field observations. Limitations of the model are addressed and future research recommendations are included.

A bibliography of the Athabasca oil sands Fort McMurray Alberta area: Socio-economic and environmental studies. 1980 cumulated update

Authors Sanford, C.
Year of Publication: 1980

This is the fifth cumulated update of' a bibliography originally prepared in early 1974 at the request of Dr. S. B. Smith, who was at that time Chairman of the Research Secretariat, Alberta Department of the Environment, and who is presently Director of the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program. The objective of the bibliography is to provide a comprehensive listing of reports relating to the socio-economic and environmental aspects of the development of the Athabasca oil Sands. Major reports and some articles on the other oil sands areas of Alberta - Cold Lake, Peace River and Wabasca - are also included. This edition, which includes journal articles received up to the end of September 1979 and reports received prior to November 1979 by the Alberta Environment Library, contains references to about 1,900 items. In addition to listing materials published since the previous edition, it also includes references to earlier items on the history of the development of the Alberta Oil Sands and on the environmental and socio-economic implications of this development. These were located by using the Alberta oil Sands Index and Oil Shales and Tar Sands: A Bibliography. These bibliographies are cited in section I. Several modifications have been made to the organization of the bibliography. Items in the \"General Background References\" section are now arranged chronologically. The \"Economic Aspects\" and \"Industry and Resources Development\" sections under \"Socio-Economic Studies, Fort McMurray Area\" have been merged. The \"Manpower and Employment\" section formerly under the \"New Town of Fort McMurray\" has become a sub-heading of the \"Fort McMurray Area\" section. The \"Ecology/Environment\" section has been moved to become the first section of the \"Environmental Studies\" section. Separate sections have been established for items pertaining to the Cold Lake, Peace River and Wabasca Oil Sands. The Cold Lake and Peace River sections have also been further subdivided to bring articles on the same topic together. Please note that the “Geology” section contains only very selective references. Also, the \"Historical Background Material” section includes a selective listing of early Geological Survey of Canada reports and other early studies. These items give a general description of the area including topography and climate, as well as the hydrological and geographical features. References are only cited once, e.g. if an item deals with both air and water pollution, it could be located in either “Air Pollution General” or “Water Quality and Pollution” , depending on which subject area has received the greatest emphasis. Title entries have not been made for items listed in the \"Application by Industry to the Government of Alberta\" sections. An asterisk beside a title in the title index indicates that the report is held by the Alberta Environment Library. Because journals are readily available, it was felt unnecessary to extend this marking to include journal articles.

A bibliography of the Athabasca oil sands Fort McMurray Alberta area: Socio-economic and environmental studies. 1982 supplement

Authors Bramm, S.
Year of Publication: 1982

This 1982 supplement to the 1980 cumulated update of \"A Bibliography of the Athabasca oil Sands, Fort McMurray, Alberta Area: Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies\" contains references to about 900 items. It lists journal articles received up to the end of November 1981 and reports received prior to February 1982 by the Alberta Environment Library. In addition to performing a computer search of selected data bases, the following sources were checked for pertinent references: the Alberta Oil Sands Index; the Alberta Municipal Affairs Library; the Alberta Tourism and Small Business Library; Alberta Culture, Historical Resources Division collection; the Library of the Northeast Alberta Regional Commissioner's Office; and the public reports published by Syncrude Canada Ltd. The assistance provided by staff of these libraries was greatly appreciated. With the exception of the changes noted below, entries are arranged under the headings used in the 1980 cumulated update. All headings and numbers appear in the table of contents; those for which there are no relevant entries in this supplement are marked \"No additions this supplement\" These headings and notes are not repeated in the body of the work. The heading for section A under \"VIII. Socio-Economic Studies\" has been changed from \"Fort McMurray Area\" to \"Athabasca Oil Sands Area\" to more accurately indicate the geographic area covered by items listed in this section. Section A also includes a new section \"Education\". As Fort McMurray is now a city, the heading for section VII. B has been changed to \"Fort McMurray\" from \"New Town of Fort McMurray\". Section VII. C \"New Townsite (for Alsands Project)\" has been established to allow for the subdivision of materials on the proposed new townsite. The 1980 cumulated update provided for separate sections for the Cold Lake, Peace River and Wabasca Oil Sands. The subdivisions \"Socio-Economic Studies\" and \"Environmental Studies\" used under Cold Lake are further subdivided using headings comparable to those established for studies on the Athabasca oil Sands. The Peace River and Wabasca sections both contain the following subdivisions: \"General Background References\", \"Historical Background Material and Archaeology\", \"Socio-Economic Studies\", and \"Environmental Studies\". A few items listed in the 1980 cumulated update have been repeated in this supplement in order to either correct the entry printed previously or to include additional information.

A bioassessment of lakes in the Alberta oil sands region

Authors Parsons, B.
Year of Publication: 2008

The SOx and NOx emissions created by the oil sands industry in Alberta have the potential to cause acidification, eutrophication and increase trace metal accumulation in freshwaters in the area. Relationships between benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) and water chemistry were calculated and a bioassessment was conducted to determine whether there was a difference in BMI assemblages between test and reference lakes. A Reference Condition Approach (RCA) was used to determine whether BMI in test lakes were different from reference lakes because an appropriate historical dataset was unavailable. Test lakes were located in an area where modeled S deposition was elevated, while reference lakes were selected in areas of "minimal disturbance" and maximized chemical and physical similarities with test lakes through an Assesssment by Nearest Neighbours Analysis (ANNA)-type grouping technique. Three analyses were used to robustly compare BMI composition at test and reference lakes, One Sample T- Tests, Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and a Test Site Analysis (TSA). A pilot study was also carried out to determine the mercury (Hg) concentrations in Amphipoda and Chironomidae and to distinguish whether Hg concentrations were influenced by distance to Hg emissions in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR). A Redundancy Analysis (RDA) showed that BMI communities were strongly affected by pH and DOC. Hyalellidae and Gammaridae were found in lakes with high pH values while Chironomidae and Oligochaete were found in lakes with low pH values. Dysticidae, Leptophlebidae, Corixidae, Sphaeriidae and Leptoceridae were more common in lakes with low DOC concentrations. Significant differences between BMI assemblages at test and reference lakes were identified by the One Sample T-Tests and MANOVA, while TSA identified potential differences in composition at 3 of the 5 test lakes according to a more lenient and reportedly, more ecologically meaningful approach. The differences in substrate and vegetation between test and reference lakes was likely more important in the causation of these differences than atmospheric deposition. Mercury concentrations in BMI were relatively high; accumulation was related to lake pH but not distance to a major Hg emission source. Chemically, the test lakes do not presently appear impacted from atmospheric pollution and because of the study design and the variable environment the differences in BMI cannot be attributed to SO* and NO* emissions. Nonetheless, appropriate field methods, analytical techniques and a dataset were developed so that future bioassessments can evaluate the effects of the growing oil sands industry more effectively than was previously possible.

A bioassessment of lakes in the Athabasca oil sands region, Alberta, using benthic macroinvertebrates

Year of Publication: 2010

Emissions of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants have increased in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) in Alberta, Canada. Atmospheric pollutants impact aquatic communities through a number of processes, but due to a lack of regional monitoring programs potential biological impacts have not been assessed. In this study, a bioassessment was conducted using approaches borrowed from a variety of protocols to establish a baseline dataset, determine appropriate methodologies, and to assess the current impact of emissions on benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) communities in the AOSR. As a result, 32 lakes, including 5 test lakes located in a modelled high deposition region, were sampled for water chemistry and BMI. The Reference Condition Approach (RCA) was used because a baseline dataset does not exist and data were evaluated using three separate statistical techniques. All of the statistical methods used: One Sample T-Tests, Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and Test Site Analysis (TSA), showed that BMI assemblages in test lakes differed from BMI assemblages in reference lakes. Traditional statistics classified all 5 test lakes as "significantly impaired" whereas TSA identified 3 of the 5 test lakes as only potentially impaired and 2 lakes were in "reference condition". The variability in lake attributes present challenges in interpreting BMI data and establishing an accurate biomonitoring program in the AOSR which need to be addressed in future assessment studies.

A bioenergetic model of food chain uptake and accumulation of organic chemicals, Athabasca River

Year of Publication: 1997

The objective of Phase II is to develop for the Northern River Basins Study a stochastic and time variable food chain model to simulate the uptake and bioaccumulation of organic chemicals in the mountain whitefish, longnose sucker and northern pike of the Athabasca River food web.

A bioenergetic model of food chain uptake and accumulation of organic chemicals, Athabasca River: Stochastic and time variable version

Year of Publication: 1996

The objective of Phase II is to develop for the Northern River Basins Study a stochastic and time variable food chain model to simulate the uptake and bioaccumulation of organic chemicals in the mountain whitefish, longnose sucker and northern pike of the Athabasca River food web.

A bivariate real options model to evaluate the effects of oil and natural gas price uncertainties on the oil sands projects

Year of Publication: 2014

This paper presents a practical, yet financially sound, real options framework to evaluate Canadian oil sands projects. The framework considers oil and natural gas price uncertainties, as well as managerial flexibilities in their decision making process. The Canadian oil sands hold the world's third largest oil deposit. To process oil sands into a usable source of energy, an extensive amount of natural gas, which has a highly volatile price, is required. We show that the importance of natural gas price and its volatility on the optimal investment policies is fading, as the price has decreased significantly in recent years.

A Carex species-dominated marsh community represents the best short-term target for reclaiming wet meadow habitat following oil sands mining in Alberta, Canada

Authors Raab, D., & Bayley S. E.
Year of Publication: 2013

Oil sands mining creates vast areas of disturbed land with contaminated sediment and sub-saline water that require reclamation. Thus far reclamation of wetlands on oil sand leases has been sporadic, although some marshes and shallow water wetlands developing on the leases have begun to exhibit viable vegetation communities. To identify the communities found on oil sands leases that demonstrate ecological performance similar to that of natural wetlands, and to provide guidance on specific revegetation practices, we compared the vegetation communities of 25 natural fresh to sub-saline marshes, which represent the most realistic outcome of the reclaimed wetlands, and 20 oil sands reclaimed marshes. We found that wetlands did not have consistent vegetation communities on the basis of their construction history, and that exposure to oil sands process-affected water does not determine the vegetation community that will develop in reclaimed oil sands wetlands. We identified three wet meadow vegetation communities among our study wetlands using the statistical technique of hierarchical cluster analysis: sedge-dominated natural reference, reclaimed sedge, and disturbed/saline. Notably, the reclaimed sedge communities in the oil sands sites were different from sedge communities in natural marshes; Carex aquatilis Wahlenb. dominates reclaimed sites whereas Carex atherodes Spreng. dominates natural sites. The majority of vegetation communities that develop in reclaimed wetlands produce less aboveground biomass than natural wetlands, despite having similar species richness and percent cover. In general, oil sands reclaimed wetlands have lower levels of sediment nutrients and lower sediment water content than natural wetlands, and these deficiencies may be limiting vegetation community biomass production compared to natural wetlands. The presence of a Carex species-dominated vegetation community at some reclaimed sites shows promise for future reclamation success, if revegetation targets the establishment of this community.

A census of moose on Syncrude's leases 17 and 22 during early February 1977

Year of Publication: 1978

A total count of moose was attempted on Syncrude Canada Ltd. leases 17 and 22 in February 1977. Transects spaced at 0.4 km intervals were flown with a Hughes 500C helicopter. All seven marked moose known to be present on the area were seen, suggesting 100% observability during the survey. Total numbers of moose observed and likely the total moose population, declined 40% (43 to 26) between February 1976 and February 1977. A disproportionately higher number of moose were present in aspen than in other vegetation types.

A climatology of low-level air trajectories in the Alberta oil sands area

Authors Denison, P. J.
Year of Publication: 1977

By contract dated April 23, 1976 (Supply and Services Canada 04SZ. KH 601-5-1157) Acres Consulting Services was authorized to make the study, \"A Climatology of Low-Level Air Trajectories in the Alberta Oil Sands Area\". The study is part of the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) sponsored jointly by Alberta Environment and Fisheries and Environment Canada. The Scientific Authority responsible for all matters concerning the scientific and technological content of the work was Mr. M. P. Olson, Atmospheric Environment Service (AES). The principal investigator on the project was Mr. P. J. Denison, Acres Consulting Services (ACS). One initiation and three progress meetings were held during the course of studies.

A comparative analysis of the hydrological performance of reconstructed and natural watersheds

Authors Bachu, L.
Year of Publication: 2008

An example of watershed disturbance activity undertaken to gain access to the oil sands is large scale mining in the Athabasca basin, Alberta, Canada. One of the remedial activities of this disturbance is the reclamation of the disturbed lands. In the process of reclamation, the overburden soil is placed back into the mined pits and reformed with soil covers (alternatively called reconstructed watersheds). In the design process of reclamation, a major concern is hydrological sustainability, which includes the soils ability to store enough moisture for the water requirements of vegetation growth and land-atmospheric moisture fluxes. Typically, the goal of the reclamation is to restore the disturbed watersheds, so that they mimic the natural watersheds in terms of the ecological sustainability. Therefore, a comparative evaluation of the hydrological sustainability of the reconstructed watersheds with natural watersheds is required. The considered reconstructed watershed in this study (the flat top of the South Bison Hill, Fort McMurray, Alberta, which is about 6 years old) constitutes a thin layer of a peat-mineral mix (20 cm thick) overlying an 80 cm thick secondary (glacial till) layer on the shale formation, mimicking the natural soil horizons of undisturbed watersheds. As the reconstructed watershed is located in the boreal forest region, a mature boreal forest (Old Aspen site, about 88 years old) located in the Southern Study Area (SSA), BOREAS, Saskatchewan, Canada, is considered as a representative of natural watershed. The A-horizon with 25 cm of sandy loam texture, the B-horizon with 45 cm-thick sandy clay loam, and the C-horizon with 40 cm of a mixture of sandy clay loam and loam are considered in this study. An existing System Dynamics Watershed (SDW) model (lumped and site-specific) is modified and adapted to model the hydrological processes of the reconstructed and natural watersheds, such as soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and runoff.

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