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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 review of rate coefficients and constants used in nutrient and dissolved oxygen models for the Peace, Athabasca and Slave River Basins

Year of Publication: 1993

The purpose of this project was to compile a list of rate coefficients that have been used or are appropriate for use in nutrient and dissolved oxygen models for rivers in the Peace, Athabasca and Slave river basins in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories, incluidng coefficients for nitrogen, phosphorous, algal growth and dissolved oxygen.

A review of the baseline data relevant to the documentation and evaluation of the impacts of oil sands developments on black bear in the AOSERP study area

Year of Publication: 1978

Three of the tenets upon which the Canada-Alberta agreement for the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) is founded are: 1. Canada and Alberta recognize the necessity of improving the scientific understanding of the effects of the oil sands development on the human and natural environment of the Athabasca Oil Sands area. 2. The results of an intensive study of the area will be useful in predicting the effects of any proposed development as a basis for considering future proposals. 3. The results of the study program will be utilized by Alberta in the approval process for future developments and in the environmental design of any project which might be implemented. It is clear, therefore, that AOSERP was established with at least two major goals in mind: 1. To conduct research which will be useful in predicting the environmental effects of oil sands development, and 2. To conduct research which will provide an understanding of the environmental effects of development such that this knowledge may be used in the environmental design of future developments. Development of the Athabasca Oil Sands will affect the black bear population to varying degrees through alteration of habitat, disturbance factors, and increased exploitation. Black bear research in the AOSERP. study area (Figure 1) has not been extensive. One field study doOll1lented radio locations of four cubless females in the Fort Hills area (Fuller ru1d Keith in prep.). Young (1978) categorized habitat in all townships within the AOSERP study area from forest cover series maps (1:126,720 scale) and calculated black bear densities. This was a comparative study based on known densities in similar habitats near Cold Lake, Alberta. In addition, black bear research near Cold Lake (approximately 144 km south of the AOSERP study area) was initiated by Alberta Recreation, Parks and wildlife in 1968 and continued by the University of Wisconsin with financial support from AOSERP. Kemp (1972, 1976) and Ruff (1973) produced reports based on this work; however, a good deal of information is, as yet, unavailable. The general objective of this study is to complete an analysis of the applied research necessary to evaluate the responses of black bears to oil sands development. The objective of this report is to provide a review of the available baseline data which are relevant to the documentation and evaluation of the impacts on black bear which would result from oil sands development in the Athabasca Oil Sands area. This review forms the basis of evaluation of the state of baseline knowledge of black bears in the AOSERP study area and a statement of the research which should be completed in order to provide the data; this analysis has been submitted as a separate volume.

A review of the literature on the removal of organic chemicals from drinking water

Year of Publication: 1995

This report provides a review of the literature concerning the current state of knowledge for removing organic chemicals from drinking water. Sources of organic chemicals include humic substances (products form the natural degradation of plant and animal matter), municipal and industrial effluent, agricultural runoff (pesticides, fertilizer and manure), contaminated leachate from landfill sites and lagoons, and accidental and illegal dumping. Humid substances are the products of natural processes and are the most significant class of organics in terms of volume. Because the humic substances are natural, little can be done to prevent them from entering the water, as opposed to other sources that are a result of human activity. Although treatment processes can significantly improve water quality, the cleaner the raw water supply, the simpler and more economical the water treatment is. The effect of organic chemicals on drinking water quality ranges from aesthetic (taste, odour, colour) to threats to human health (carcinogens). Virtually all organic chemicals can be reduced in concentration by the appropriate water treatment processes. The amount of reduction is a function of the parameters of the chemical of interest, the water treatment process used and the other materials present in the raw water. Coagulation and flocculation, softening, sedimentation, filtration, chlorine, activated carbon (GAC and PAC), resin adsorption, air stripping, reverse osmosis, chlorine dioxide, ozone and UV radiation were evaluated as to their effectiveness in removing organic chemicals from water. As may be expected, no-one process is capable of treating the whole range of organic chemicals. The effectiveness of a treatment process is a function of the characteristics of the organic chemical in question. For example, physical processes such as coagulation and flocculation can be effective in removing organic chemicals that associate with the organic material in the water. When designing a water treatment facility extensive testing may be necessary to determine the appropriate processes for treating the raw water. Bench top and pilot plant testing will likely be necessary to estimate the effectiveness of the design treatment processes on treating the water.

A review of the nature of naphthenic acid occurrence toxicity and fate in refinery and oil sands extraction wastewaters

Year of Publication: 2010

Concerns regarding the fast growing oil sands industry and the risk of contamination associated to the naphthenic acids have risen into environmental and regulatory groups. Naphthenic acids which occur naturally in crude oils and bitumen have been identified and characterised as primary toxicants in wastewaters associated with oil refineries and oil sands extraction activities. Respecting the zero policy discharge, the petroleum industry has accumulated large volumes of oils sands process water into tailings ponds and wetland. The toxicity and persistence of naphthenic acids is important to consider in terms of potential effects to aquatic organisms such as fish, invertebrates and aquatic plants. Environmental managers may encounter issues with toxicity arising from naphthenic acids or other related wastewater components related. This article summarizes the current available literature regarding the toxicity and fate of naphthenic acids in the environment. Strategies for identifying toxicity caused by naphthenic acids or other components in wastewaters will also be presented.

A review of the occurrence analyses toxicity and biodegradation of naphthenic acids

Year of Publication: 2005

Naphthenic acids occur naturally in crude oils and in oil sands bitumens. They are toxic components in refinery wastewaters and in oil sands extraction waters. In addition, there are many industrial uses for naphthenic acids, so there is a potential for their release to the environment from a variety of activities. Studies have shown that naphthenic acids are susceptible to biodegradation, which decreases their concentration and reduces toxicity. This is a complex group of carboxylic acids with the general formula CnH2n+ZO2, where n indicates the carbon number and Z specifies the hydrogen deficiency resulting from ring formation. Measuring the concentrations of naphthenic acids in environmental samples and determining the chemical composition of a naphthenic acids mixture are huge analytical challenges. However, new analytical methods are being applied to these problems and progress is being made to better understand this mixture of chemically similar compounds. This paper reviews a variety of analytical methods and their application to assessing biodegradation of naphthenic acids.

A review of the occurrence and fate of naphthenic acids in aquatic environments

Year of Publication: 2004

Naphthenic acids are comprised of a large collection of saturated aliphatic and alicyclic carboxylic acids found in hydrocarbon deposits (petroleum, oil sands bitumen, and crude oils). Naphthenic acids enter surface water systems primarily through effluent discharge, but also through groundwater mixing and erosion of riverbank oil deposits. Of the possible environmental receptors (i.e., air, soil, and water), the most significant is water. Ambient levels of naphthenic acids in northern Alberta rivers in the Athabasca Oil Sands are generally below 1 mg L−1. However, tailings pond waters may contain as high as 110 mg L−1. The complexity of natural naphthenic acids in petroleum deposits poses an analytical challenge as reflected by the several techniques reported for quantitation of naphthenic acids in the environment. Although naphthenic acids are known to be persistent biomarkers used in identification of oil source maturation, little is established regarding their relative degradation pathways in aquatic environments. Published research related to the potential for microbiological degradation and adsorption to typical Athabasca Oil Sands soils reveal that naphthenic acids are likely to persist in the water column and, with prolonged exposure, accumulate in sediments. However, other than a very general knowledge of environmental persistence, the occurrence and fate of naphthenic acids has been sparsely studied. This article brings together some of those environmental persistence results, as well as detailed information regarding the origin of naphthenic acids in tailings ponds, chemistry and toxicological considerations, current analytical methods for aquatic sampling, and areas of future remediation research.

A review of the SEWG in situ footprint model metrics and assumptions

Authors Hague, P., & Wilson B. J.
Year of Publication: 2009

The purpose of the Sustainable Ecosystems Working Group (SEWG) is to develop and recommend a management framework to the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) and ultimately to the Government of Alberta to address cumulative effects on ecosystems and landscapes in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) using sustainable development principles. The SEWG completed work on their Terrestrial Ecosystem Management Framework (TEMF) which was approved by the CEMA Board and forwarded to government in June of 2008. Further work to refine recommendations and outcomes of the TEMF were identified by CEMA and the Government of Alberta (GoA).

A review of the technology available for the control of atmospheric emissions from oil sands plants

Year of Publication: 1983

Dynawest Projects Ltd. has been commissioned by Alberta Environment to provide an overview of the technology available for the control of sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions from oil sands plants. The study scope is summarized below: 1. Review briefly bitumen extraction and upgrading technologies. 2. Review and update Claus sulphur recovery technologies. 3. Review and update tail gas clean-up technologies. 4. Review and update flue gas desulphurization technologies. 5. Review air fluidized bed technologies. 6. Review coke gasification technologies. 7. Review control systems for oxides of nitrogen. The content of the main sections of the report is summarized below. All economic data is presented in mid 1982 Canadian dollars and refers to process units whose capacity is based on the oil sands upgrading configuration shown in Figure 1. 1. Claus Plant Technology The Claus process for the recovery of sulphur from gas streams containing hydrogen sulphide is well proven and used throughout the world. Both existing oil sands plants incorporate the process. Different acid gas compositions require alternative process configurations for successful treatment. Acid gas composition and operating procedures are the principal determinants of catalyst deactivation rates. The capital and annual operating costs of the process are shown on Table II. 2. Tail Gas Treatment Processes Several processes for the recovery of sulphur from Claus plant tail gas are available; none has yet been installed at an oil sands plant. Processes described are listed in Table III which shows the state of development of each, and identifies which processes increase the capacity of the parent Claus plant by recycling material to it. The capital and annual operating costs of the processes described are shown on Table IV. 3. Flue Gas Desulphurization Processes A number of processes for the removal of SO2 from flue gas are available; none has yet been installed at an oil sands plant. Processes described are listed in Table V which shows the state of development of each, identifies principal reagents, byproducts and upper limit (if any) on the SO2 content of the flue gas to be treated. The capital and annual operating costs of the processes described are shown on Table VI. 4. Residue Gasification Several processes, most of which were originally developed for the gasification of coal, are available. Table VII summarizes the salient features of those described in the report. Consideration of the potential application of residue gasification in an oil sands plant suggests that an entrained flow gasifier would be more appropriate than either a fixed or fluidized bed. Operating and design considerations for entrained flow gasifiers are described in some detail. The most probable use of residue gasification in an oil sands complex is for the production of hydrogen. The capital and annual operating costs of a fully integrated hydrogen production plant based on residue gasification are shown on Table VIII. 5. Fluidized Bed Combustion Fluidized Bed Combustion combines combustion, heat transfer and desulphurization in a single operation. The technology shows a cost advantage over conventional pulverized fuel combustion only when flue gas desulphurization would otherwise be required. Most major processes are still at the development stage with only small industrial units (up to 75 t/h of steam) being offered commercially. 6. NOx Emission Control Fuel combustion is the principal source of NOx emissions from an oil sands complex. Three strategies are available for emission control: operational modifications; equipment design and modification; and NOx removal. The latter is the most effective and expensive. The technology is well established and its application to oil sands plants presents no special problems. The Alberta Government has established guidelines limiting the total emission of sulphur from an oil sands operation to 3.2 t per 1000 m3 of bitumen fed to the upgrading process (0.5 long tons per 1000 bbl). The incremental cost of attaining this standard by progressively increasing expenditure on pollution control equipment is summarized on Figure II which demonstrates the application of the law of diminishing returns as additional technology is added to the basic Claus plant.

A role for nuclear energy in the recovery of oil from the tar sands of Alberta

Year of Publication: 1977

This report briefly describes techniques of oil recovery from the tar sands and the energy requirements of this operation. Fossil fuel, such as coal, and CANDU* nuclear reactors are examined as competitive sources of energy for the tar sands plants. This study indicates the feasibility of both sources. Among the nuclear reactors, the organic-cooled version of the CANDU reactor appears to have the necessary flexibility to fit into many of the possible methods of recovering oil from the tar sands. Cost comparisons of fossil and nuclear sources show that, for the supply of process steam, the nuclear source is competitive under the criteria of debt financing or low discount rates on capital, continued escalation, and long plant capital write-off period. A strategy is discussed for the recovery of oil from the tar sands with a view to optimizing the costs and, in tile long run, to conserving the fossil fuels at the expense of nuclear fuels. This scheme involves supplying process heat and electricity from organic-cooled CANDU reactors (CANDU-OCR) built at the tar sands site, making hydrogen from coal at the coal fields and piping it to the bitumen upgrading plants. This strategy would require further development of the CANDU-OCR.

A science and technology strategy for Canada's oil sands industry

Year of Publication: 1995

This report showed that science and technology are the basis for all current oil sands operations. Study proved that technological breakthroughs were essential for future grassroots investment. Assuming that the price of oil would remain in the range of 15 to 20 dollars a barrel, new technologies would be the key lever to economically sound commercial development. Technologies should reduce capital, operating as well as transportation costs. It was urged that, in the development of new technologies, emphasis should be put on technologies that eliminate or bypass entire sections of the current cost structure

A socioeconomic evaluation of the recreational use of fish and wildlife resources in Alberta with particular reference to the AOSERP study area. Volume I: Summary and conclusions

Year of Publication: 1978

An estimated total of 1,390,980 Albertans over five years of age engaged in nonconsumptive recreational fish and wildlife activities in the Province during 1975-76, of whom 102,600 also engaged in hunting and of whom 308,500 also engaged in fishing activities during the same period. The annual total number of recreational days amounted to 20,500,000, of which nonconsumptive use accounted for 16,700,000, angling 3,100,000, and hunting 700,000 recreation days. Among the Provincial totals, 50,170 Albertans engaged in nonconsumptive fish and wildlife use in the AOSERP study area for a total of 83,393 recreation days. Angling involved 13,168 persons for 87,014 days and hunting involved 2,203 persons for 10,354 days. An estimated 13,648 AOSERP study area residents engaged in nonconsumptive activities in the study area for 54,592 days. AOSERP study area residents angling in the AOSERP study area accounted for 4,000 persons and 39,327 days and AOSERP study area residents hunting in the AOSERP study area accounted for 1,151 persons and 6,768 days. Province-wide consumptive use (fishing and hunting) during 1975-76 involved harvests by Albertans of 5,789,448 fish, 22,382 big game, 248,210 upland game birds and 1,097,538 waterfowl. Among these totals 164,442 fish, 216 big game, 5,730 up.1andbirds and 1,760 waterfowl were taken in the AOSERP study area by Albertans. AOSERP study area residents harvested 81,878 fish, 176 big game animals, 3,075 upland birds, and 1,057 waterfowl in the AOSERP study area during the same year.

A solar-driven UV/Chlorine advanced oxidation process

Year of Publication: 2012

An overlap of the absorption spectrum of the hypochlorite ion (OCl(-)) and the ultraviolet (UV) end of the solar emission spectrum implies that solar photons can probably initiate the UV/chlorine advanced oxidation process (AOP). The application of this solar process to water and wastewater treatment has been investigated in this study. At the bench-scale, the OCl(-) photolysis quantum yield at 303 nm (representative of the lower end of the solar UV region) and at concentrations from 0 to 4.23 mM was 0.87 ± 0.01. Also the hydroxyl radical yield factor (for an OCl(-) concentration of 1.13 mM) was 0.70 ± 0.02. Application of this process, at the bench-scale and under actual sunlight, led to methylene blue (MB) photobleaching and cyclohexanoic acid (CHA) photodegradation. For MB photobleaching, the OCl(-) concentration was the key factor causing an increase in the pseudo first-order rate constants. The MB photobleaching quantum yield was affected by the MB concentration, but not much by the OCl(-) concentration. For CHA photodegradation, an optimal OCl(-) concentration of 1.55 mM was obtained for a 0.23 mM CHA concentration, and a scavenger effect was observed when higher OCl(-) concentrations were applied. Quantum yields of 0.09 ± 0.01 and 0.89 ± 0.06 were found for CHA photodegradation and OCl(-) photolysis, respectively. In addition, based on the Air Mass 1.5 reference solar spectrum and experimental quantum yields, a theoretical calculation method was developed to estimate the initial rate for photoreactions under sunlight. The theoretical initial rates agreed well with the experimental rates for both MB photobleaching and CHA photodegradation.

A spill response model, user's manual

Authors Aitken, B.
Year of Publication: 1996

This report provides a spill response model and a user's manual for the Athabasca River. The model provides the capability for downstream sites from a spill to develop a prediction of the likely time when the spilt material is likely to come into contact with a water intake point. The model affords a predictive capability to users not previously available. It affords the opportunity for users to be warned of the onset of likely contamination thereby presenting an opportunity to take corrective action to avoid use of contaminated drinking water supplies. The model does not predict the interval of time when contamination is no longer an issue

A statistically derived forecast scheme for winds and temperatures in the Athabasca tar sands area

Year of Publication: 1982

Syncrude Canada Ltd. operates an oil sands extraction plant in the Athabasca Tar Sands region of northeastern Alberta. Although this facility is designed to maintain resulting ground level air quality within the objectives of Alberta Environment, exceedances of these objectives may occur in extreme meteorological conditions. If these conditions were to be predicted in advance, then plant emissions could be adjusted in order to maintain ground level air quality at a desirable level. The purpose of this study is to develop a forecast scheme, based on analysis of historical, site specific data, which will allow prediction eight hours in advance of real time of those parameters which are required to predict ground level air quality. Specifically, these predictands are: wind speed and direction at stack and plume heights, vertical temperature gradient at stack height, mixing height and horizontal fluctuations of wind direction. Development of the forecast scheme for predictands relating to wind and temperature employed multiple linear regression analyses. Historical data for these parameters were obtained from analysis of 2 399 pibal observations and 2 289 minisonde observations made near the Syncrude plant site over the years 1975 to 1979 inclusive. Concurrent data for the predictors used in the regression equations were obtained from the following national, regional and local sources: the 850 mb pressure level wind field prepared by the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC), radiosonde temperature profiles obtained at Fort Smith and Stony Plain, upper air wind profiles and hourly surface records from the Fort McMurray airport, winds and the temperatures from the Tall Tower, and finally, surface winds from the towers at Stony Mountain and Mildred Lake.

A study of biological colonization of the West Interceptor Ditch and lower Beaver Creek

Authors Tsui, P., Tripp D., & Grant W.
Year of Publication: 1978

Syncrude Canada Ltd. is producing synthetic crude oil from a surface mine on the eastern portion of Crown Lease 17, Alberta. Aquatic Environments Limited was commissioned to study the natural recolonization of a water diversion system necessary for the operation of the mine. Syncrude's Environmental Research Monographs are published verbatim from the final reports of professional environmental consultants. Only proprietary technical or budget-related information is withheld. Because we do not necessarily base our decisions on just one consultant's opinion, recommendations found in the text should not be construed as commitments to action by Syncrude.

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