Skip To Content

Talbot Lake


View Larger Map

Location

Improvement District No. 12 AB
Canada

An examination of the toxic properties of water extracts in the vicinity of an oil sand extraction site


Year: 2011

Abstract:
The industrial extraction of oil sands (OS) in northern Alberta, Canada, has raised concerns about the quality of the Athabasca River. The purpose of this study was to examine the toxic properties of various water extracts on Oncorhynchus mykiss trout hepatocytes. The water samples were fractionated on a reverse-phase C(18) cartridge and the levels of light-, medium- and heavy-weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined by fluorescence spectroscopy. Primary cultures of trout hepatocytes were exposed for 48 h at 15 °C to increasing concentrations of the C(18) extract corresponding to 0.02, 0.1, 0.5 and 2.5X concentrations from upstream/downstream sites in the Athabasca River, lake and groundwater samples, OS tailings and interceptor well-water samples. Changes in cell viability, phase I and phase II biotransformation enzymes (cytochrome P4501A and glutathione S-transferase activities), oxidative damage (lipid peroxidation LPO) and genotoxicity (single and double DNA strand breaks) were monitored in post-exposure cells. The water samples decreased cell viability and increased all the above endpoints at thresholds of between 0.02 and 0.1X the water concentration. The most responsive biomarker was DNA damage but it also offered the least discrimination among sites. LPO was higher at sites downstream of the industrial operations compared to upstream sites. A decision tree analysis was performed to formulate a set of rules by which to identify the distinctive properties of each type of water samples. The analysis revealed that OS tailings and interceptor waters were characterized by an increased concentration in light PAHs (>42 μg L(-1)) and this fraction represented more than 85% of the total PAHs. These samples also inhibited GST activity, which could compromise the elimination of genotoxic PAHs present in the system. An analysis of groundwater samples revealed a contamination pattern similar to that for OS tailings. There is a need for more research into specific biomarkers of toxicity from OS tailings compounds such as naphthenic acids, light PAHs among others, which are a characteristic fingerprint of OS extraction activities.

Differential changes in gene expression in rainbow trout hepatocytes exposed to extracts of oil sands process-affected water and the Athabasca River


Year: 2012

Abstract:
The oil sands region of northern Alberta represents the world's largest reserves of bitumen, and the accelerated pace of industrial extraction activity has raised concern about the possible impacts on the Athabasca River and its tributaries. An ecotoxicogenomic study was undertaken on Oncorhynchus mykiss trout hepatocytes exposed to extracts of water samples near the oil sand development area, as well as to oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) extracts using the quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction technique. The expression of the following genes (mRNA) was monitored to track changes in xenobiotic biotransformation (CYP1A1, CYP3A4, glutathione S-transferase, multi-drug resistance transporter), estrogenicity (estrogen receptor and vitellogenin), oxidative stress (superoxide dismutase and metallothionein) and DNA repair activity (DNA ligase). The extent of DNA-aromatic hydrocarbon adducts was also determined in cells by immuno-staining. A comparative analysis of gene expression between the river/lake and OSPW samples revealed that CYP3A4, metallothioneins, DNA ligase and GST genes, were specifically expressed by OSPW. Cells exposed to OSPW, commercial naphthenic acids, and benzo(a)pyrene showed increased polyaromatic hydrocarbon DNA-adducts, as determined by cell immunofluorescence analysis. Other genes were induced by all types of water samples, although the induction potential was stronger in OSPW most of the time (e.g., VTG gene was expressed nearly 15-fold by surface waters from the lake and river samples but increased to a maximum of 31-fold in OSPW). A multivariate discriminant function analysis revealed that the lake and river water samples were well discriminated from the OSPW. The CYP3A4 gene was the most highly expressed gene in cells exposed to OSPW and responded less to the lake or river water in the Athabasca River area. This study identified a suite of gene targets that responded specifically to OSPW extracts, which could serve as toxicogenomic fingerprints of OSPW contamination. Differential changes in gene expression in rainbow trout hepatocytes exposed to extracts of oil sands process-affected water and the Athabasca River (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221753631_Differential_changes_in_gene_expression_in_rainbow_trout_hepatocytes_exposed_to_extracts_of_oil_sands_process-affected_water_and_the_Athabasca_River [accessed Jan 18, 2016].

Investigations of mercury concentrations in walleye and other fish in the Athabasca River ecosystem with increasing oil sands developments


Author(s): Evans, M. S., & Talbot A.

Year: 2012

Abstract:
Recent studies have reported an increasing trend of mercury concentrations in walleye (Sander vitreus) from the Athabasca River, north eastern Alberta (Canada); these studies were based on three years of comparison and attributed the mercury increase to expanding oil sands developments in the region. In order to conduct a more comprehensive analysis of mercury trends in fish, we compiled an extensive database for walleye, lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), northern pike (Esox lucius) and lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) using all available data obtained from provincial, federal, and industry-funded monitoring and other programs. Evidence for increasing trends in mercury concentrations were examined for each species by location and year also considering fish weight and length. In the immediate oil sands area of the Athabasca River, mercury concentrations decreased (p < 0.001) in walleye and lake whitefish over 1984-2011. In western Lake Athabasca and its delta, mercury concentrations decreased (p < 0.0001) in northern pike (1981-2009) although no trend was evident for walleye (1981-2005) and lake trout (1978-2009). Mercury concentrations in lake trout from Namur Lake, a small lake west of the oil sands area, were higher in 2007 than 2000 (p < 0.0001); it is difficult to ascribe this increase to an oil sands impact because similar increases in mercury concentrations have been observed in lake trout from similar sized lakes in the Northwest Territories. While mercury emissions rates have increased with oil sands development and the landscape become more disturbed, mercury concentrations remained low in water and sediments in the Athabasca River and its tributaries and similar to concentrations observed outside the development areas and in earlier decades. Our fish database was assembled from a series of studies that differed in study purpose, design, and analytical methods. Future monitoring programs investigating mercury trends in fish should be more rigorous in their design.

Investigations of mercury concentrations in walleye and other fish in the Athabasca River ecosystem with increasing oil sands developments


Author(s): Evans, M. S., & Talbot A.

Year: 2012

Abstract:
Recent studies have reported an increasing trend of mercury concentrations in walleye (Sander vitreus) from the Athabasca River, north eastern Alberta (Canada); these studies were based on three years of comparison and attributed the mercury increase to expanding oil sands developments in the region. In order to conduct a more comprehensive analysis of mercury trends in fish, we compiled an extensive database for walleye, lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), northern pike (Esox lucius) and lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) using all available data obtained from provincial, federal, and industry-funded monitoring and other programs. Evidence for increasing trends in mercury concentrations were examined for each species by location and year also considering fish weight and length. In the immediate oil sands area of the Athabasca River, mercury concentrations decreased (p < 0.001) in walleye and lake whitefish over 1984–2011. In western Lake Athabasca and its delta, mercury concentrations decreased (p < 0.0001) in northern pike (1981–2009) although no trend was evident for walleye (1981–2005) and lake trout (1978–2009). Mercury concentrations in lake trout from Namur Lake, a small lake west of the oil sands area, were higher in 2007 than 2000 (p < 0.0001); it is difficult to ascribe this increase to an oil sands impact because similar increases in mercury concentrations have been observed in lake trout from similar sized lakes in the Northwest Territories. While mercury emissions rates have increased with oil sands development and the landscape become more disturbed, mercury concentrations remained low in water and sediments in the Athabasca River and its tributaries and similar to concentrations observed outside the development areas and in earlier decades. Our fish database was assembled from a series of studies that differed in study purpose, design, and analytical methods. Future monitoring programs investigating mercury trends in fish should be more rigorous in their design.