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Mud Lake

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In the shadow of the oilsands

Year: 2011

A young willow branch, stuck intothe mud by a boater, marks the deepest passage from Lake Athabasca into the Athabasca Delta (top left). Fort Chipewyan's band elders are concerned that water being taken from the Athabasca River to process bitumer~ into oil is contributing to declining water levels. Tar sands processing requires almost four barrels of water for every barrel of crude produced; Alberta Energy projects production will reach 3 million barrels of oil per day by 2018. Aside from employment in the oilsands, commercial fishing is one of Fort Chipewyan's last viable means of making a living (top right). Over the last five years, more and more fish with golf-ball-sized tumours, double tails, and other abnormalities have been caught in Lake Athabasca by commercial fishermen. In 2010, fishermen in Fort Chipewyan were unable to sell any fish commercially due to growing concerns over contamination from pollution, according to Lionel Lepine, the traditional environmental knowledge coordinator for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Most of the fish caught during 2010 were smoked (bottom left) or thrown to sled dogs (bottom right).

[Anonymous] (2011).  In the shadow of the oilsands. 44(5), 26-33. Abstract