Air Quality

08.14.2012 @ WBEA Air Monitoring Station

Diane Phillips

Sr. Environmental Scientist
President, Wood Buffalo Environmental Association

Watch Diane's Story

“There is a long history of ambient air monitoring in the oil sands region, and I have worked in this area for 32 years. Monitoring and reporting is currently being done by the multi-stakeholder Wood Buffalo Environmental Association; WBEA has a history of providing high quality data, as verified by independent auditors.

Because stakeholders need accurate information about air quality, we've increased our programs within WBEA—we're measuring for more pollutants and we've expanded our network of monitoring stations.

While regional air quality is generally better than the rest of the province, stakeholders have expressed concerns about odours, so we're studying technologies that will help us track, understand and manage these odours. We're also trying to link air emissions from oil sands operators with vegetation and receptor modelling in the field.”


08.16.2012 @ Canadian Parliament Grounds

Pierre Gratton

President and CEO,
Mining Association of Canada

“The Mining Association of Canada's Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program is a risk management approach to ensuring the responsible development of our industry. It includes annual performance-based public reporting and third-party assurance. Some of the areas covered include tailings management, energy use and GHG emissions, and Aboriginal and community outreach.

We added a biodiversity protocol a couple of years ago because our Community of Interest Advisory Panel recognized it as an emerging issue.

We want our industry to respond to it proactively by setting up a system to measure a company's impact on biodiversity, the steps taken to mitigate that impact, and actions taken to promote biodiversity in their operations. Syncrude's work with wood bison and land reclamation are good examples of the directions we want to go with this protocol. The mining industry practices the highest environmental standards with a deep commitment to sustainable development. A commitment to biodiversity conservation is essential.”

Climate Change

08.14.2012 @ De-Sanding Pilot Test Facility

Robert Siy

Senior Research Associate

Ron Cleminson

Technology Development Associate

Watch Robert's Story

“Syncrude has developed a new technology that removes settling solids from our oil sand slurry and we're testing it in this field pilot. It has great potential to simplify mining, extraction, tailings management and land reclamation. It will make it much easier to transport slurry and recover bitumen. This means we will use less energy for pumping and extracting the bitumen, along with less chemicals and water. We also expect to help reclaim land and water more quickly.

Canadians expect us to responsibly manage our business and this is something that could have a significant positive change.”

“Continuous technology improvement is good for the company and the industry as a whole. Oil sand de-sanding is a technology innovation that could mean higher production yield at a lower unit cost, along with associated environmental benefits. Even if it does not turn out as hoped, there will be lessons learned, which in turn will move us forward toward achieving the same goals.”

Land Reclamation

08.13.2012 @ Sandhill Fen

Lynne Barlow

Project Manager, Sandhill Fen

Watch Lynne's Story

“Syncrude aims to develop a variety of landscapes on the land we reclaim, all of which will be interconnected. We've been filling in the old East Mine since 2000, and the landform is now beginning to take shape. This is a very large area. Part of it will be upland forest and part will be wetlands such as this 17-hectare area where we are working to create the conditions needed to establish a fen. A fen is a peat wetland where the water is at or near the surface, and they are found naturally in the region.

Stakeholders want to see these re-established in areas affected by oil sands mining.”

Tailings Management

07.30.2012 @ Base Mine Lake

Samantha Tavener

Environmental Scientist

Watch Samantha's Story

“As part of our reclamation plan, Syncrude is creating an aquatic reclamation area using a technology called water-capped tailings. Basically, we’ve put fine tailings into one of our former mine pits. As the fine tailings settle and slowly densify, pore water from in between the fines moves upwards into the lake water. There, it mixes with additional water that will flow in and out of the lake.

Our stakeholders want the lake to support a variety of aquatic plants and insects.

Syncrude has spent more than 20 years studying this technology in smaller ponds and through numerous other studies. We will track the progress of the developing aquatic ecosystem and I am very confident about its success.”

Water Management

07.31.2012 @ Filtration Test Ponds

Gail Buchanan

Sr. Technology Development Engineer

Warren Zubot

Research Associate

“Syncrude first explored granular activated carbon treatment of tailings water in 1989; using it to treat other kinds of water was already well established. What's changed is the notion that we can use our own petroleum coke, which is a byproduct of our production process, as the treatment agent.”

Watch Warren's Story
“Stakeholders want us to be responsible and innovative when it comes to the management of our resources.

Over the last five years that we've been studying this technology, we've learned that this is a very good application of using an upgraded byproduct to treat tailings water. We've learned that the treated water does support aquatic life—it's clean and clear with no hydrocarbons, suspended solids or dissolved organic compounds.”

Waste Management

09.25.2012 @ Lion's Park, Fort McMurray

Barb Jewers

Manager, Tailings and Lease Development
President, Fort McMurray United Way Board of Directors

“Fort McMurray is recognized as the most caring community in Canada in terms of per capita donations to the United Way. And oil sands companies are key contributors to that achievement. They not only generate great excitement about our annual fundraising campaign at their workplaces, but also help to communicate to their employees the value of giving and how their contributions greatly benefit our communities. Every effort counts. In fact, at designated recycling bins across the site, Syncrude collects around $5,000 in returns from empty bottles and cans each year.

This money is donated to the United Way, which then helps support 70 local programs and 27 agencies, including the Salvation Army, SPCA and the Boys and Girls Club. It's an easy way to give that adds up in a really big way.”

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