Kitchener has spent about $30 million remediating the soil of a city block. Now there are likely apple and orange differences between such efforts. So let's err on the side of generosity and suggest that the area of Kitchener's remediation is two hectares or 20,000 square meters. Let's further stipulate that repaving the street doubled the price of the project. So, basic maths indicate that $30 million for two hectares is $15 million for one hectare which is divided by two for the paving... that leaves a cost of approximately $7.5 million dollars for one hectare. Hell, let's just cut that in half once more for the hell of it and go with a figure of $3.75 million per hectare.
Good old Syncrude must have some very special techniques. Or perhaps something else was occurring. How much were Alberta and Canadian tax payers ponying up to achieve this economic wonder for the benefit of Syncrude? Consider some of the data collected in this report that I cited way back here. This paragraph springs to mind:
"Consider the liabilities cost to the taxpayer just of the relatively small Sydney Tar Ponds, in which 31 hectares were poisoned by 700,000 metric tonnes of contaminated sediments. Government recently committed $400 million in taxpayers’ dollars to a cleanup. Contrast these 31 hectares with Canada’s Tar Sands where the tailings ponds alone already cover more than 5,000 hectares and grow with every passing moment."
Let's go back and peek at what this magnificent reclamation involved...
"Dyer said it's good to see a spot officially reclaimed, but he notes it was a site that only involved the reclamation of an enormous pile of overburden, the soil scraped off a site before it is mined. The reclamation site had no tailings or actual mined land."
Ah, so the "reclamation" consisted of moving some soil off the site. Perhaps that explains the bargain basement price. So assuming that the figures aren't jiggered and further assuming that while politicians and business folk dance about chanting neener, the true cost of remediation and reclamation of the Florida sized toxic wasteland in Alberta will have a cost more in line with Sydney. Well let me suggest that Albertans consider cashing in their chips before the boom goes bust. 'Cos you happy saps are going to get stuck with a big mess that you can't pay for and big oil will almost certainly not hang about to clean up once the damage is done and the profits have been syphoned off.
Sydney - $12.9 million per hectare
Syncrude claims - $114 thousand per hectare
"Dyer thinks one of the things the government definitely needs to reconsider is the financial guarantees it's securing from oilsands companies.
The industry as a whole is bonded for $468 million, he said. "If you do a simple calculation that would suggest they have something like $10,000 or $11,000 per hectare in the bank should any of these companies default on their reclamation."
So the bottom line is that the entire oilsand business is bonded for a little bit more than the cost of cleaning up 31 hectares of toxic soil, water and waste. Anyone else think this won't end well? Syncrude's synthetic and crude attempt to plant a puff piece in the media is a far leap away from the reality of the toxic disaster they are busily creating.
"These masses of toxic soup have now grown so big that they can be seen by the naked eye from space. Indeed, they now include the largest dams on the planet, to be rivalled only by China’s Three Gorges when it is finished. It is hard to believe, but one of the largest dams in the world is a toxic sludge reservoir behind one of Syncrude’s earthen dykes."
We are presiding over a toxic nightmare of impossible scale. It will not be cleaned up. To believe otherwise is sheerest folly. Climb behind the wheels of those SUVs and enjoy them while you can. That much stupid is likely fatal, to say nothing of the fact that it is using enough natural gas to heat 3,000,000 homes, every day, to extract all that cherished poison. Way to go, free market economy.
Just for snickers, I used the Sydney numbers of $12.9 million and multiplied it by the 5,000 hectares that represent just the tailing ponds and came up with a measly $64.5 billion dollars to clean them up. Of course that doesn't include the likelihood of massive lawsuits once the enormous quantities of arsenic and other poisons leach into the waterways and river systems. Don't forget that those "visible from space" dams that Syncrude employs are simply earthen structures, porous and permeable. Ah the beautiful, big skies of Alberta, where tomorrows two headed babies come from.