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Wood Buffalo AB

Christina Lake Thermal Project supplemental land use report

Year: 1998

This land use study was a supplement to the Christina Lake Project Environmental Impact Assessment presented to AEUB in 1998 by PanCanadian Resources. The objectives were to provide baseline information that would identify resources that had been of traditional use and cultural significance to the Aboriginal communities in the area, to outline the current uses of those resources, and to provide the historic harvest records for traplines affected by the proposed development. The study consisted of a literature review of traditional land use and occupancy studies conducted by the Athabasca Native Development Corporation for Aboriginal communities north of Christina Lake, as well as several publications on traditional land use by Fort McKay First Nation. Items discussed in the study include a brief discussion of previous traditional land use studies, regional traditional land use patterns (including flora; fauna; and cabins, trails, gravesites, salt licks, and artesian wells), traplines in the area, and previously-identified issues and concerns.

Cumulative impacts to FMFN#468 traditional lands & life ways: Shell Jackpine Mine Expansion and Pierre River Mine Report for regulatory hearings

Author(s): Labour, S., & Dickson B.

Year: 2012

This report was prepared in support of Fort McMurray First Nation #468’s (FMFN#468’s) participation at the regulatory hearings for Shell Canada Energy’s (Shell’s) Jackpine Mine Expansion and Pierre River Mine projects. As can be seen in Figure 1, both of the proposed projects are within the northern reaches of FMFN #468’s traditional lands.1 This report provides a description of existing effects and disturbance in FMFN #468’s territory, and of how Shell’s two proposed developments – the Jackpine Mine Expansion (JPMX) and Pierre River Mine (PRM) – are situated within FMFN #468’s known and recorded traditional land use (TLU).

Fisheries and habitat investigations of tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area: Volume II

Author(s): Tripp, D. B., & Tsui P. T. P.

Year: 1980

This report presents the results of studies conducted from May to October 1978 on tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area. The major objectives of these investigations were: 1. To describe the baseline states of the major components of the aquatic ecosystems in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; 2. To describe, in detail, aquatic habitats of the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; and 3. To provide a quantitative estimate of the biological significance of the watersheds to the Athabasca River system. Three streams, the Christina, Gregoire, and Hangingstone, were selected for detailed study and were examined in early and late spring, late summer, and late autumn. Together, these three streams are representative of most of the major stream habitat types occurring within the project study area. Other waterbodies were sampled once only during late summer. This report consists of two volumes. Volume I is an explanatory text complete with summary tables and maps, while Volume II contains benthic macroinvertebrate and fish catch data.

Gregoire Lake monitoring program: Six month report April to September 1979

Author(s): Murray, W. A.

Year: 1981

This report presents a summary of the meteorological data collected by the meteorological tower network in the Gregoire Lake region of northeast Alberta during the spring and summer of 1979. The network was established to help monitor the impact on the environment by the Amoco Canada Co. Ltd. pilot plant. A previous report, prepared by Athabasca Research Corporation (Ferguson 1979), presented an analysis of the winter 1978-79 data. A discussion is presented of the theoretical meteorological background including synoptic and mesoscale influences on the dispersion of effluents emitted into the atmosphere. Field dispersion experiments in the oil sands area are reviewed briefly. The statistics of the various weather elements are discussed. Wind velocity was measured at the 30 m tower level at Anzac, the Gregoire Lake Provincial Park, the Amoco pilot plant, and Stoney Mountain. Temperature, relative humidity, vertical velocity, precipitation, barometric pressure, and solar radiation were to be monitored at the pilot plant. The system for recording these data was not completely debugged by the end of the summer so data are not available yet. The meteorological statistics and the case studies indicated that when the air is stable or neutral, the regional airflow is deflected to follow the contours of the ridge, which is south of Gregoire Lake, and parallel to the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. Under convectively unstable conditions, air flow tended to be upslope at the plant site and on Stoney Mountain, but similar to the regional flow at the valley stations. Wind speeds were generally light in agreement with long-term records in the oil sands area. Temperatures also followed the longterm trends. Examination of local meteorological and upper air data from Edmonton and Fort Smith indicated that the high concentrations of nitric oxide recorded on 27 September 1979 may have been related to low mixing heights. The source was probably not the pilot plant because the wind had been from the northwest for several hours prior to the incident. It is recommended that the reliability of data acquisition be improved. A study such as this one depends on valid, complete data it is of little value to collect data which has uncertainties as to time, calibration, or scale zeroes.

Guide to the Athabasca oil sands area

Year: 1973

The oil sands area is located in northeastern Alberta adjacent to the Canadian Shield (Fig. 1). The main drainage of the area is provided by the Athabasca-Clearwater system, the valleys of which are incised into a broad, muskeg-covered interior plain to depths of 200 to 300 feet. The tributary streams originate in three highland areas (Fig. 2): the Birch Mountains to the west of the Athabasca River which rise to about 2,700 feet, Stony Mountain south of Fort McMurray which reaches an elevation of 2,500 feet, and Muskeg Mountain to the east of the Athabasca River which rises gradually to 1,900 feet. To the southwest of the area, between Birch Mountain and Stony Mountain and north of the eastward flowing Athabasca River, is a subdued highland area with gentle slopes called the Thickwood Hills. These hills give rise to northward flowing tributaries of the MacKay River, and a few short streams flowing southward to the Athabasca. A number of shallow lakes are located in the area, the largest and most numerous of which are located on the top of the Birch Mountains and form an interconnected chain of lakes, which flow into the Ells River. These are called Eaglenest, Gardiner, and Namur Lakes. The only lakes of any size south of Fort McMurray are Algar and Gregoire Lakes. McClelland Lake, which is located in the lowlands northeast of Bitumount, is an area of internal drainage.

Historical resources post-impact assessment, ATCO Electric, Ruth Lake-MacKay 240-kV transmission project and Crow and Gregoire 144 kV transmission projects, permit 2002-029

Year: 2002

The objectives of this post-impact assessment were to inventory historical resource sites within the development zone; evaluate the significance of the individual sites identified; assess the nature and magnitude of site specific impacts; and to design and implement an acceptable site specific mitigation program which would significantly eliminate potential future impacts to identified sites. Record review was conducted to identify previously recorded sites which could be affected by the development project, and to determine the nature of the database in the area. Ground reconnaissance was done to relocate, previously recorded historical resource sites as well as to identify and record any new sites within the development zone. Site discovery and post-impact assessment and included the visual examination of post-clearing surfaces within the right-of-way and inspection of adjacent exposures. Shovel testing was conducted in areas of identified cultural material or potential site areas lacking suitable exposures. The nature of the existing resource database, the quantity and quality of observable remains (e.g. site condition, content, uniqueness, and complexity) and the potential of the site to contribute to public enjoyment and education was evaluated. The areas targeted for this Historical Resources Post-Impact Assessment were portions of the Ruth Lake MacKay 240 kV Transmission Project and of the Crow and Gregoire 144 kV Transmission Projects, located in north-eastern Alberta. The Ruth Lake - MacKay Transmission Project is approximately 39 kilometres long, extending between the existing Ruth Lake Substation 848S (N1/2 16-92-10-W4M) and the new MacKay Substation (NW 5-93-12-W4M). The Crow Transmission Project is approximately 35 km long, extending between the new Crow Substation 860S and the existing Mariana Substation 833S. The Gregoire Transmission Project extends between the new Gregoire Substation 883S and an existing transmission line 7L36, with a total length of 15 km.

In-situ recovery process fluids

Author(s): Peake, E., & Maclean M. A.

Year: 1988

The heavy oils produced from the Alberta oil sands contain cyclic organic compounds together with sulphur and nitrogen. Upon thermal treatment they have the potential to form carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic compounds. Recovery of oil by in-situ combustion processes, such as the Combination of Forward Combustion and Waterflood (COFCAW) process, may result in the formation of such biologically active compounds with generation dependent upon operating conditions. The objective of the present research program is to evaluate produced oils and accompanying waters from in-situ combustion processes for possible biological activity. This evaluation is based on biological testing, using the Ames test for mutagenicity and the Microtox test for toxicity, and on the chemical analysis of oils and waters for the presence of known carcinogens. For comparison, oils produced by the less thermally rigorous steam injection process, as well as naturally occurring bitumen, and synthetic crude oil and other oils produced from the Athabasca and Peace River oil sands were examined. Analysis of oils produced by in-situ combustion showed the presence of many carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds, among them the well known carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). The BaP content of a mixture of bitumen, cracked oil, and diesel fuel produced by the COFCAW process from the Gregoire Lake pilot project contained 14 µg/g BaP. This compares with 1.5 µg/g in unaltered bitumen and 1 to 3 µg/g in most crude oils. Samples obtained from the Suffield Heavy Oil project which had not undergone rigorous thermal treatment contained from 1.5 to 7.5 µg/g benzo(a)pyrene and emulsion produced by steam injection from the Peace River Pilot project. operated by Shell Canada Resources Limited, contained 2.7 µg/g. An oil produced by dry retorting of the Athabasca oil sands contained 16 µg/g BaP. Oils produced from combustion tube experiments with Athabasca oil sand had a similar BaP content, 2.6 and 4.2 µg/g. Some tars and pitches, especially coal tars, may contain 10 to 100 times more BaP than crude petroleum. Refinery residuals, tars, and oils from Sarnia were found to contain 150 to 1050 µg/g. Benzo(a)pyrene is the best known of the carcinogens found in petroleum, but many other known or suspected carcinogens were found in greater quantities than BaP in the oils produced by in-situ combustion and dry retorting. The assessment of any carcinogenic hazard associated with petroleum is difficult. Animal tests are expensive and time consuming; therefore, short term bio-assays for mutagenic properties such as the Ames test, together with chemical analysis, are employed. Positive results in the Ames test are not an absolute indicator of carcinogenic potential. Mutagenicity does not in all cases imply carcinogenicity; however, those polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are carcinogenic are also mutagenic in the Ames test when appropriate enzymes are included. Mutagenic activity was found with the Ames test in oils produced from the Gregoire Lake. Suffield, and Peace River in-situ pilot projects and in vacuum gas oil and pitch from the Peace River diluent recovery unit. The mutagenicity was less than predicted from the amount of carcinogenic aromatic compounds found by chemical analysis. The complex mixture of hydrocarbons which comprises these oils suppressed the activity of the carcinogens in the Ames test. Thus the Ames test was found to be an indicator of mutagenic activity but not a quantitative method for assessing the relative mutagenicity of oils. Synthetic crude oil produced from Athabasca bitumen displayed some mutagenic activity but, despite the presence of BaP, the bitumen itself did not. Waters produced during in-situ recovery of oil by both steam stimulation and combustion processes were toxic to aquatic organisms as determined by the Microtox bioluminescence assay. EC 50 values, the effective concentration of toxicant causing a 50% decrease in the light output of a photoluminescent bacteria, ranged from 0.30 to 11. The toxicity was caused partly by volatile organic compounds, primarily alkyl substituted benzenes, and partly by extractable organic compounds including phenols, organic acids, and hydrocarbons with no single class of compounds solely responsible for the observed toxicity. Wastewaters from the dry retorting process were more toxic than waters produced by in-situ combustion and contained many aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrogen compounds known to be biologically active. The chemical analyses and limited biological testing carried out in this study detected no strong mutagenic or carcinogenic hazard associated with in-situ recovery of heavy oil by combustion and steam injection. The relative hazard is probably marginally greater than that associated with production of conventional light crude oils but far less than might be expected from coal liquefaction processes or from disposal of refinery residuals. The hazard associated with dry retorting is greater than that from in-situ recovery methods and care should be taken in the handling of both products and wastewaters from this process.

JACOS Hangingstone SAGD Demonstration Project: Traditional land use study for the Fort McMurray No. 468 First Nation

Year: 2000

The purpose of this Traditional Land Use Study was to ensure that information on traditional land use in the surrounding region (JACOS Hanging stone project located approximately 50 kilometres south-southwest of Fort McMurray in Twp 84 Rge 11 W4M) was current and relevant so that potential impacts from the JACOS Hangingstone project to traditional land use could be reduced or effectively mitigated. The objectives were to document the traditional environmental and historical knowledge of the FMFN; identify and map significant sites such as important medicinal plant and berry-harvesting areas, historical gathering places, graves, cabins, traplines, sweat lodges, salt licks, etc.; to identify any concerns that people have about the existing developments, the proposed development, and the potential cumulative impacts; to produce a report and a series of maps that display the JACOS Hangingstone project and the traditional uses in the TLUS study area; to identify potential ways to reduce or mitigate the possible impacts of the proposed JACOS Hangingstone project; and to protect confidential or sensitive, site specific information. The body of this report describes the communities in the region; the participants involved in the TLUS, and review other relevant TLU studies. It summarizes information on hunting, trapping, berry and medicinal plant collecting in the study area, as well as information on historical and cultural sites. A list of concerns is presented and recommendations are made on ways to alleviate potential conflicts between traditional users and the oil and gas industry. Appendix A presents the full results of the interviews, including historical and cultural material, ecological knowledge, and the concerns of the participants. Appendix B summarizes information (obtained from published literature) on plants used by the aboriginal people of Northern Alberta for food, medicine, ceremonies and construction. Appendix C is a list of terms referring to aboriginal people. Appendix D lists locations of specific features in the study area, such as salt licks, cabins, spiritual sites, and medicinal plant sites. To protect the locations of these sensitive sites, Appendix D is not issued with this report but is available upon request from the FMFN No. 468. Copies of Appendix D have been issued to the FMFN, JACOS Ltd., and AXYS Environmental Consulting.

Mapping how we use our land: Using participatory action research

Year: 1994

The study area of the traditional land use and occupancy study profiled in this booklet is broadly speaking northeast Alberta, south of the Clearwater River, west of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, north of the Cold Lake air weapons range and east of the Athabasca River. In this region Athapaskan, Cree, and Métis people have mixed with Euro-Canadians engaged in the fur trade since the arrival of Peter Pond in 1780. The area generally opened up to settlement with steamboats on the Athabasca, the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway and the impetus created by World War II to construct roads into the region. By the 1950s the industrial economy was becoming more and more established and Aboriginal participation in wage work began to increase. Through the 1960s and 1970s with the establishment of new tar sands plants with state of the art technology, Fort McMurray became a Canadian boom town, and there was less and less incentive for Aboriginal people to maintain a full-time presence in the bush economy. Trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering became part-time activities for most, and thousands of outsiders also began to hunt and fish in the Aboriginal homelands with the assistance of seismic access roads, four-wheel-drive vehicles and float planes. Life for regional residents continues to change at a fast pace as the Alberta-Pacific pulp mill comes on stream and tar sands projects are expanded. These factors provided the incentive for the Athabasca Native Development Corporation to undertake the traditional land use and occupancy study described in this booklet.

Potential productivity of black bear habitat of the AOSERP study area

Author(s): Young, B. F.

Year: 1978

Potential black bear (Ursus americanus) production was determined for the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area using information obtained by radio-telemetry on forest cover use by bears during the two years of study at Cold Lake, Alberta. Expected densities for each of five forest over classes were calculated using the Cold Lake data. The areas of individual townships comprised by each of the cover classes were determined and multiplied by the expected bear density of each class to provide a population estimate for each township. The crude average bear density for the AOSERP study area, including water areas, was 0.18 per km2 assuming total avoidance of muskeg areas and 0.25 per km2 assuming use of muskeg. The potential entire population estimate was calculated as 5188 and 7431 bears using the two methods. The most productive bear habitat was located along the eastern and southern edges of the Birch Mountains and in the Gregoire Lake area. The poorest potential was in the Thickwood Hills and in the northeastern corner of the study area. Although final population estimates may be biased, township population estimates should provide at least a valid index for identifying important areas of black bear habitat.