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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.

A comparative study of benthic algal primary productivity in the AOSERP study area

Year of Publication: 1983

Abstract:
Studies concentrating upon the epilithic algal community were conducted in five tributary rivers flowing into the Athabasca river: the Muskeg, Steepbank, Hangingstone, MacKay, and Ells rivers. Numerically, cyanophycean algae (Lyngbya aerugineo-caerulea, Phormidium sp., Calothris braunii, Nostoc spp., and Anabaena affinis) dominated, followed by diatoms (Synedra ulna, Synedra rumpens, Gomphonema olivaceum, Gomphonema acuminatum, Gomphonema longiceps v. subclavata, Nitzschia fonticola, Nitzschia palea, Achanthes lanceolata, Epithemia sorex, Epithemia turgida, Cocconeis placentula and Cocconeis pediculus). One exception was the Hangingstone River where chlorophycean algae (Stigeoclonium pachydermum and Cladophora glomerata) were next in importance to the Cyanophyta. Seasonal fluctuations in algal species and numbers were influenced by a myriad of interacting factors as were standing crop fluctuations. However, physically disruptive forces, current velocity and discharge, appeared more important than dissolved nutrients. They also affected the chemical composition of the water itself. The mean algal standing crops ranged from 7.94 to 43.23 mg m chlorophyll a in the MacKay and Ells rivers, respectively, with mean values of 30.46, 22.9, and 22.35 mg·m-2 chlorophyll a occurring in the Muskeg, Steepbank, and Hangingstone rivers, respectively. Epilithic algal primary productivity was more closely related to standing crop size than irradiance. The annual production averaged 36.2, 54.4, 71.4, 101.6, and 110.0 gm C m-2 in the MacKay, Hangingstone, Steepbank, Ells, and Muskeg rivers, respectively.

A comparative toxicogenomic investigation of oil sand water and processed water in rainbow trout hepatocytes

Year of Publication: 2013

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to compare the expression of gene transcripts involved in toxic stress in rainbow trout hepatocytes exposed to oil sand water (OSW), lixiviate (OSLW), and processed water (OSPW). We pose the hypothesis that the changes in gene expression responses in cells exposed to a simulated oil sand extraction procedure (OSPW) differ from the gene expression responses of OSLW and OS. Rainbow trout hepatocytes were exposed to increasing concentrations of OSW, OSLW, and OSPW for 48 h at 15 °C. Cell viability was assessed by measuring membrane permeability, total RNA levels, and gene expression using an array of 16 genes involved in xenobiotic biotransformation (GST, CYP1A1, CYP3A4, MDR), metal homeostasis and oxidative stress (MT, SOD, and CAT), estrogenicity (VTG, ERβ), DNA repair (LIG, APEX, UNG, and OGG), cell growth (GADD45 and PCNA), and glycolysis (GAPDH). The results showed that the toxicogenomic properties of OSPW differed from those of OSLW and OSW. Gene transcripts that were influenced by OSW and OSLW, and strongly expressed in OSPW, were MT, CAT, GST (induction), CYP1A1, VTG, UNG/OGG, and PCNA. These genes are therefore considered not entirely specific to OSPW but to water in contact with OS. We also found gene transcripts that responded only with OSPW: SOD, GST (inhibition), MDR (inhibition), CYP3A4, GAPDH, GADD45, and APEX. Of these gene transcripts, the ones strongly associated with toxicity (loss of cell viability and RNA levels) were CYP3A4, GST, and GAPDH. Genes involved in DNA repair were also strongly related to the loss of cell viability but responded to both OSLW and OSPW. The observed changes in cell toxicity and gene expression therefore support the hypothesis that OSPW has a distinct toxic fingerprint from OSLW and OSW.

A comparison and needs assessment of hydrological models used to simulate water balance in oil sands reclamation covers - Final Report

Year of Publication: 2006

Abstract:
The successful reclamation of Oil Sands mining areas requires the construction of soil covers that will provide a suitable substrate to support the growth and development of self-sufficient forest ecosystems. To be effective, soil covers must have the capacity to store soil water and to provide essential nutrients to support plant growth. Modelling tools are required to help navigate the complexity of issues that must be addressed in the development of such soil covers. The focus of this project was to evaluate the capability of existing models to simulate water balance in Oil Sands reclamation covers and to develop a strategy to meet the long-term needs with respect to hydrology and forest growth decision-support tools. The specific project objectives include the following: 1) evaluate the current status of two water balance modeling tools (SDWM & ForWaDy) in the Oil Sands, 2) assess the capabilities of each for practical applications in the Oil Sands reclamation areas, and 3) develop a plan to go forward with existing tools including opportunities for integration and the necessity to model the dynamic interactions between soil cover hydrology and forest growth. While similar in many respects (climate data requirements and basic structure) the two models differ in terms of their focal areas. ForWaDy is a vegetation-oriented model with a simulated partitioning of evapotranspiration among trees, competing vegetation and bare soil using an energy balance approach. The representation of soil water storage and flux in ForWaDy is relatively simple and based upon a tipping bucket approach. In contrast, the emphasis of SDWM is on soil physical processes, where the amount and rate of water movement is determined as a function of suction potential and other soil physical properties. The effect of vegetation on soil water storage and evapotranspiration rates is represented as a site-specific coefficient used in combination with air temperature and soil suction. An evaluation of performance in projecting trends in water storage and actual evapotranspiration (AET) for the different cover types applied in the SW30 Dump showed that the models performed similarly in terms of their accuracy relative to field measured data. In both cases models performed quite well in predicting patterns in soil moisture content. Model performance was generally better in representing peat layer moisture contents compared to till layer moisture contents. Potential reasons for deviations from till layer measurements are discussed.

A comparison of tension and zero-tension lysimeter and PRS (TM) Probes for measuring soil water chemistry in sandy boreal soils in the Athabasca oil sands region, Canada

Year of Publication: 2013

Abstract:
Because soil acidification models use soil solution chemistry as a critical endpoint for predicting adverse biological effects, it is essential that various options for measuring soil water chemistry are assessed. This is particularly true for the Athabasca oil sands region of Alberta, Canada, as widespread acidification impacts are predicted based on modelled soil solution chemistry, but no soil solution data are currently available to validate these estimates. In this study, tension and zero-tension lysimeters were compared over a 3-year period at a jack pine stand (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) established in an acidic, sandy brunisol adjacent (<2 km) to one of the largest mines in the region. During the final year, plant root simulator (PRS™) probes were also installed for comparative purposes as they are currently being used in the region to assess changes in soil chemistry. Despite the close proximity to the mine and high sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition, the annual average pH of the soil water collected by both lysimeter types was around 6.5 and NO3–N concentrations were negligible. Annual SO4 concentrations in tension lysimeters averaged 12–14 mg L−1 and were typically two to four times higher than in zero-tension lysimeters; similar differences between lysimeters were observed for divalent base cations (Ca and Mg). Values (ion supply rates) obtained by PRS™ were affected by both the position of the probes (horizontal vs. vertical) and the duration of probe insertion (1, 2 and 5 months), such that higher values for most nutrients were obtained using probes that were installed vertically and for shorter periods of time. The Ca/Mg ratio in lysimeters and PRS™ probes were comparable, but other elemental ratios such as Ca/S or Ca/Al were much higher in PRS™ probes than in lysimeter water. Similar to lysimeter data, NO3–N values obtained by PRS™ probes were very low. PRS™ probes may be useful for assessing differences in nutrient availability among sites, but they do not reflect soil water chemistry that is used in geochemical acidification models.

A compendium of socio-economic statistics for the AOSERP study area since 1961

Authors
Year of Publication: 1980

Abstract:
The central objective of the study entitled \"A Compendium of Socio-Economic Statistics for the Athabasca Oil Sands Region\" was to assemble data that would facilitate an understanding of the demographic and socio-economic impacts of oil sands development in the Fort McMurray area and, where possible, Fort Chipewyan, Fort Mackay and Anzac. A further requirement of the study was that these data, where possible, be taken back to 1961. The requirements that the various types of socioeconomic and demographic data be comparably measured over time, and the need to relate these data to specific geographical areas, has limited the types of data sources relevant to this study. In particular, we have found data from the Census of Canada, for the years 1961, 1966, 1971 and 1976, to be the most satisfactory means of meeting these requirements of temporal and geographical continuity. Even so, these data have required various standardization procedures. Where possible, census data have been augmented with data obtained from other sources. The socio-economic and demographic data presented in this report have been organized into a number of major areas including overall population patterns, family and household patterns, labour force characteristics of the relevant population, housing patterns, and material pertaining to social services and infrastructure in the area.

A comprehensive guide to the Alberta oil sands: Understanding the environmental and human impacts export implications and political economic and industry influences

Authors Mech, M.
Year of Publication: 2011

Abstract:
Just as an oil slick can spread far from its source, the implications of Oil Sands production have far reaching effects. Many people only read or hear about isolated aspects of these implications. Media stories often provide only a ‘window’ of information on one specific event and detailed reports commonly center around one particular facet. This paper brings together major points from a vast selection of reports, studies and research papers, books, documentaries, articles, and fact sheets relating to the Alberta Oil Sands. It is not inclusive. The objective of this document is to present sufficient information on the primary factors and repercussions involved with Oil Sands production and export so as to provide the reader with an overall picture of the scope and implications of Oil Sands current production and potential future development, without perusing vast volumes of publications. The content presents both basic facts, and those that would supplement a general knowledge base of the Oil Sands and this document can be utilized wholly or in part, to gain or complement a perspective of one or more particular aspect(s) associated with the Oil Sands. The substantial range of Oil Sands- related topics is covered in brevity in the summary. This paper discusses environmental, resource, and health concerns, reclamation, viable alternatives, crude oil pipelines, and carbon capture and storage. It also provides some insight into the political and economic factors that have influenced Oil Sands development and, with some variance, continue to do so; furnishes a sampling of government inadequacies and ignored findings; and includes subjects not often in the forefront, such as the exploitation of Temporary Foreign Workers and the lives of mobile workers.

A conceptual model for study of impacts of oil sands development in the Fort McMurray area

Authors
Year of Publication: 1979

Abstract:
This document is the interim report of a study entitled, \"A Conceptual Model for Study of Impacts of Oil Sands Development in the Fort McMurray Area\". The fundamental objectives to which the present report is addressed are as follows: develop an overall planning/policy information framework that will serve to identify the indicators and variables for which data need to be obtained in order to provide the necessary informational support for planning and policy development initiatives with respect to the oil sands region; to design a methodology for soliciting information from departments and agencies of the Alberta government with respect to their information requirements relating to planning and policy activities in relationship to the oil sands development region; to assess the results of existing research studies to determine to what extent they contain information useful to the above stated objectives.

A crash programme scenario for the Canadian oil sands industry

Year of Publication: 2007

Abstract:
The report Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management, by Robert L. Hirsch et al., concludes that Peak Oil is going to happen and that worldwide large-scale mitigation efforts are necessary to avoid its possible devastating effects for the world economy. These efforts include accelerated production, referred to as crash programme production, from Canadas oil sands. The objective of this article is to investigate and analyse what production levels that might be reasonable to expect from a crash programme for the Canadian oil sands industry, within the time frame 2006-20 18 and 2006-2050. The implementation of a crash programme for the Canadian oil sands industry is associated with serious difficulties. There is not a large enough supply of natural gas to support a future Canadian oil sands industry with todays dependence on natural gas. It is possible to use bitumen as fuel and for upgrading, although it seems to be incompatible with Canadas obligations under the Kyoto treaty. For practical long-term high production, Canada must construct nuclear facilities to generate energy for the in situ projects. Even in a very optimistic scenario Canadas oil sands will not prevent Peak Oil. A short-term crash programme from the Canadian oil sands industry achieves about 3.6 mb/d by 2018. A long-term crash programme results in a production of approximately 5 mb/d by 2030.

A database of environmental samples collected and analysed for the Northern River Basins Study

Year of Publication: 1996

Abstract:
An important component of this study was the original data resulting from the collection and analysis of environmental samples. Samples were collected, stored and analysed by a number of different agencies. The compilation of an inventory of samples obtained by NRBS and results data into a single electronic database was undertaken to ensure future ease of access to original data. This report describes the data contained in the database, the methods used to compile the database, the media and nature of the samples, the collection site and the data collected. Information is provided on which analyses were conducted on samples as well as providing the values of various parameters measured for the samples. All the files and the data fields that comprise the database are described in a Users Guide, which is part of this report.-

A derivatisation and liquid chromatography/electrospray ionisation multistage mass spectrometry method for the characterisation of naphthenic acids

Year of Publication: 2008

Abstract:
Naphthenic acids (NAs) are partially uncharacterised complex mixtures of carboxylic acids, resulting from the microbial oxidation of petroleum hydrocarbons. They are associated with the fouling of pipelines and process equipment in oil production and with corrosion in oil refineries. As by-products of the rapidly expanding oil (tar) sands industries, NAs are also pollutants and have proved to be toxic to a range of organisms. They also have important beneficial uses as fungicides, tyre additives and, paradoxically, also in the manufacture of corrosion inhibitors. These features make the characterisation of NAs an important goal for analytical chemists. Here we describe the synthesis of amide derivatives of NAs for characterisation by liquid chromatography/electrospray ionisation multistage mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MSn). The method was applied to commercially available carboxylic acids, novel synthetic NAs, commercial NAs refined from crude oils, crude oil NAs and Athabasca oil sands NAs. In addition to confirming the number of alicyclic rings and length of alkyl side chain substituents (confirming information from existing methods), the MSn results provided further structural information. Most important of these was the finding that bi- to polycyclic acids containing ethanoate side chains, in addition to alkyl substituents, were widespread amongst the oil and oil sands NAs. The latter NAs are known end members of the β-oxidation of NAs with even carbon number alkanoate chains. Since such NA mixtures are toxic, they should be targets for bioremediation. Bioremediation of NAs can also be monitored better by application of the methods described herein.

A detailed field-based evaluation of naphthenic acid mobility in groundwater

Year of Publication: 2009

Abstract:
An anaerobic plume of process-affected groundwater was characterized in a shallow sand aquifer adjacent to an oil sands tailings impoundment. Based on biological oxygen demand measurements, the reductive capacity of the plume is considered minimal. Major dissolved components associated with the plume include HCO3, Na, Cl, SO4, and naphthenic acids (NAs). Quantitative and qualitative NA analyses were performed on groundwater samples to investigate NA fate and transport in the subsurface. Despite subsurface residence times exceeding 20 years, significant attenuation of NAs by biodegradation was not observed based on screening techniques developed at the time of the investigation. Relative to conservative tracers (i.e., Cl), overall NA attenuation in the subsurface is limited, which is consistent with batch sorption and microcosm studies performed by other authors. Insignificant biological oxygen demand and low concentrations of dissolved As (< 10 µg L− 1) in the plume suggest that the potential for secondary trace metal release, specifically As, via reductive dissolution reactions driven by ingress of process-affected water is minimal. It is also possible that readily leachable As is not present in significant quantities within the sediments of the study area. Thus, for similar plumes of process-affected groundwater in shallow sand aquifers which may occur as oil sands mining expands, a reasonable expectation is for NA persistence, but minimal trace metal mobilization.

A discussion paper on the oil sands: Challenges and opportunities

Authors Birn, K., & Khanna P.
Year of Publication: 2010

Abstract:
The oil sands have become a significant source of secure energy supply and a major economic driver for Canada. As production in the oil sands expands so too has the concern about the effects of development on communities water, land, and air. This paper aims to provide a basis for an informed discussion about the oil sands by examining the current challenges facing development and by reviewing the central issues, both positive and negative facing the industry. This paper isn't meant to provide an exhaustive list of all potential impacts associated with oil sands development or document the oil sands regulatory regime. 

A feasibility study for the estimation of atmospheric dispersion coefficients from wind fluctuation statistics in the AOSERP study area

Year of Publication: 1979

Abstract:
During the fall and winter of 1976-77 a project was undertaken to establish the feasibility of using a bivane anemometer to calculate dispersion coefficients from wind fluctuation statistics. The measurements procedure and the experimental results are described in this report. It was determined that the time allowed for the project was insufficient to collect samples of the weather conditions required. The lack of agreement between the concurrent bivane measurements and the vertical dispersion of the plume indicates that care must be taken in applying the bivane results to determine the dispersion of the GCOS plume.

A first approximation kinetic model to predict methane generation from an oil sands tailings settling basin

Year of Publication: 2008

Abstract:
A small fraction of the naphtha diluent used for oil sands processing escapes with tailings and supports methane (CH4) biogenesis in large anaerobic settling basins such as Mildred Lake Settling Basin (MLSB) in northern Alberta, Canada. Based on the rate of naphtha metabolism in tailings incubated in laboratory microcosms, a kinetic model comprising lag phase, rate of hydrocarbon metabolism and conversion to CH4 was developed to predict CH4 biogenesis and flux from MLSB. Zero- and first-order kinetic models, respectively predicted generation of 5.4 and 5.1 mmol CH4 in naphtha-amended microcosms compared to 5.3 (±0.2) mmol CH4 measured in microcosms during 46 weeks of incubation. These kinetic models also predicted well the CH4 produced by tailings amended with either naphtha-range n-alkanes or BTEX compounds at concentrations similar to those expected in MLSB. Considering 25% of MLSB’s 200 million m3 tailings volume to be methanogenic, the zero- and first-order kinetic models applied over a wide range of naphtha concentrations (0.01–1.0 wt%) predicted production of 8.9–400 million l CH4 day−1 from MLSB, which exceeds the estimated production of 3–43 million l CH4 day−1. This discrepancy may result from heterogeneity and density of the tailings, presence of nutrients in the microcosms, and/or overestimation of the readily biodegradable fraction of the naphtha in MLSB tailings.

A first assessment of the elemental composition of atmospheric aerosols in the Canadian oil sands region

Year of Publication: 2013

Abstract:
Canadian Oil Sands, which comprise 97% of Canada’s 176 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, are located beneath 140,200 km2 of boreal forests, prairies and wetlands, and are the second largest known deposit of crude oil in the world. As such, this region has experienced rapid industrial development, which resulted also in increasing industrial air emissions, primarily from bitumen upgrading and mine vehicle fleet operations. This rapid development has led to concerns regarding health risk to humans, and other terrestrial and aquatic wildlife associated with exposure to toxic contaminants, especially metals and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) particularly along the Athabasca River and its watershed. Canada’s Minister of the Environment announced that Environment Canada (EC) will jointly lead, in collaboration with Government of Alberta and relevant stakeholders, the development and implementation of an enhanced monitoring system in the Oil Sands region to provide information on the state of the air, water, land andbiodiversity. This work presents preliminary data on the first assessment of elemental composition of fine particulate matter (particles<2.5 mm in diameter; PM2.5) at 3 air quality sites in close proximity to Oil Sands processing activities. Since December 2010, integrated 24 hour air samples were collected every sixth day on a 47-mm Teflon filters using Thermo Fisher Partisol 2000-FRM samplers operated by the National Air Pollution Surveillance (NAPS) network that involves EC and the Canadian provinces and territories. All samples including laboratory, travel and field blanks were subjected to gravimetric determination of PM2.5 mass and energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) analysis for 46 elements. Since ED-XRF is a non-destructive technique, PM2.5 samples were subsequently analyzed for 37 trace elements including rare earth elements using inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) combined with microwave-assisted acid digestion. The resulting data will be discussed.

A fisheries and water quality survey of ten lakes in the Richardson Tower area northeastern Alberta. Volume I: Methodology summary and discussion

Authors Ash, G. R., & Noton L. R.
Year of Publication: 1980

Abstract:
A fisheries and water quality survey was conducted in September 1979 on 10 small lakes (67.4 to 338.9 ha) in the vicinity of Richardson Tower, approximately 140 km north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The major objectives were: (1) to determine morphometric and water quality characteristics in relation to habitat requirements for indigenous and possible introduced species of fish; (2) to assess potential fish yield; and (3) to determine the susceptibility of the lakes to acidification. Maximum lake depth ranged from 6 to 16 m; mean depth varied from 1.9 to 8.0 m. Morphoedaphic indices varied from 16.7 to 54.3. Water quality was fairly uniform with moderate concentrations of dissolved sol ids total filterable residue slightly above 100 mg/L), calcium and bicarbonate at the major ions, and low phosphorus levels. Waters were clear, largely unstained, and generally well oxygenated. Water quality in most lakes was highly suitable for fish production. Ten species of fish were recorded. All lakes supported northern pike while only five contained walleye. Lake whitefish was present in all but one lake. Yellow perch, although recorded in seven of the lakes, were slow growing and small in size. Estimates of potential fish yield varied from 4.8 to 6.5 kg/ha/yr to 8.2 to 10.9 kg/ha/yr. Mean total alkalinity of the study lakes was 77 mg/L (1.53 meq/L). Although terrestrial buffering responses were uncertain, it appeared that lakes are not highly susceptible to acidification (i.e., at precipitation acidities foreseeable for the study area).

A fisheries and water quality survey of ten lakes in the Richardson Tower area Northeastern Alberta. Volume II: Data

Authors Ash, G. R., & Noton L. R.
Year of Publication: 1980

Abstract:
A fisheries and water quality survey was conducted in September 1979 on 10 small lakes (67.4 to 338.9 hal in the vicinity of Richardson Tower, approximately 140 km north of Fort McMurray, Alberta). The major objectives were: (1) to determine morphometric and water quality characteristics in relation to habitat requirements for indigenous and possible introduced species of fish; (2) to assess potential fish yield; and (3) to determine the susceptibility of the lakes to acidification. This information is contained in Volume I. Volume I I contains all data collected for this study.

A foundation for the future: Building an environmental monitoring system for the oil sands

Authors
Year of Publication: 2010

Abstract:
In September, 2010, important concerns regarding the impacts of oil sand industry on the environment in the Lower Athabasca River Basin resulted in the creation of the oil sands advisory panel. This panel was set up to examine and evaluate the existing system for research and monitoring and identify strengths and weaknesses regarding water monitoring in the Lower Athabasca River Basin and connected waterways. In this report, the panel provides important elements to guide the monitoring of water quality and quantity. The panel has identified several organizations or individuals contributing to the research and monitoring of the Athabasca River system but also points out in the document that the research has not yet led to a consensus regarding the impacts of oil sands development on the environment. It has also been observed that no standardized data management system has been put in place to facilitate the access to data for interested parties. Important weaknesses in the existing monitoring system were identified by the panel. The advisory panel recommended the implementation of a credible and transparent, comprehensive and adaptive monitoring program, through a collaborative work between relevant jurisdictions and stakeholders. 50 refs.

A general fish and riverine habitat inventory Athabasca River April to May 1992

Authors
Year of Publication: 1994

Abstract:
Report of a study, 1992, the objectives of which were to conduct a baseline fish/fish habitat inventory for the entire length of the Athabasca River (northern Alberta), provide recommendation for follow-up studies, update existing fish/fish habitat inventory data, collect samples of fish for contaminant analysis, and conduct an assessment of tributaries in the study area.