Government of Alberta Reports

In addition to the RRTAC and AOSERP reports housed elsewhere in this ERA Community, the Government of Alberta, and in particular Alberta Environment, also published reports on oil sands reclamation and environmental management. These reports were prepared by a number of organizational units over the years, including the Land Conservation and Reclamation Council and the Research Management Division. TAKE NOTE: These reports are provided to give context and historical information. As they are old they may contain references to out-of-date legislation and policies. Readers should be cautious when using these materials and always refer to current legislation and policies.
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  1. Establishment and survival of ground cover plantings on disturbed areas in Alberta. Progress Report #2. Revegetation of disturbed sites. such as power line rights-of-way and strip mines [Download]

    Title: Establishment and survival of ground cover plantings on disturbed areas in Alberta. Progress Report #2. Revegetation of disturbed sites. such as power line rights-of-way and strip mines
    Creator: Wheeler, G. W.
    Description: Introduction This the second in the series of progress reports on the non-cultivated disturbed areas revegetation project deals with powerline rights-of-way and to a limited extent strip mines. The previous report dealt with pipeline rights-of-way and tar sand mining areas. Powerline rights-of-way were surveyed throughout the province to find out what vegetation was growing on them and if reseeding was if required. The Whitewood coal mine at Wabamun was surveyed to determine the success of past revegetation projects and the extent of natural revegetation. Objectives • To determine the need if any for seeding of powerline rights-of-way. • To find the native and naturalized species most likely to be useful for seeding when reseeding is required. • To see which species are likely to be useful within the various soil zones. • To find those species most likely to be useful in the revegetation of strip mines. • To make recommendations on which species should be considered for use in which soil zones.
    Subjects: Alberta, Mines, Revegetation, Rights-of-way, Native Species
    Date Created: 1973
  2. The Alberta Oil Sands Community Exposure and Health Effects Assessment Program: Technical report [Download]

    Title: The Alberta Oil Sands Community Exposure and Health Effects Assessment Program: Technical report
    Creator: Alberta Health and Wellness
    Description: The Main Study of the Alberta Oil Sands Community Exposure and Health Effects Assessment Program had three main objectives: 1. Describe the population and personal distribution of exposure to airborne chemicals and particulates: • estimate the population distribution of selected airborne chemicals and particulates; • estimate the seasonal variation of exposure and; • characterize the personal variation of exposure as a function of individual activity patterns. 2. Quantify the relative contribution of various exposure sources and pathways to airborne chemicals: • quantify the relative contribution of outdoor and indoor air to the total exposure. 3. Describe associations between exposure to airborne chemicals and human health effects: • analyze occurrence relationships between selected exposures, biomarkers, and health outcomes.
    Subjects: Alberta, Oil Sands, Oilsands, Tarsands, Health, Air Emissions, Tar Sands
    Date Created: 2000
  3. Background air quality Sandalta trailer May 1983 to March 1984 [Download]

    Title: Background air quality Sandalta trailer May 1983 to March 1984
    Creator: Murray, W. A.
    Description: The results of a baseline air quality and meteorological data collection program at a site in the Athabasca oil sands region, 65 km north of Fort McMurray, Alberta are presented. Sulphur dioxide, ozone, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and meteorological parameters were monitored from May 1983 through March 1984, inclusive. Sulphur dioxide concentrations averaged 3 ppbv over the study period. Mean ozone concentrations averaged about 27 ppbv. Nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide concentrations averaged 0.6 ppbv and 1 ppbv, respectively. The prevailing wind direction was southerly, parallel to the Athabasca River. The fraction of the total pollutants arriving from each direction was similar to the overall wind rose. However, the average pollutant concentrations varied only weakly with wind direction. Two events were examined in detail. In one case, the air was transported from the Peace River region over the Oil Sands region. Sharp increases in pollutant concentrations were monitored as vertical mixing developed in the late morning hours. In the second case, the air mass source region was in the Northwest Territories and relatively low pollutant concentrations were recorded.
    Subjects: RMD 82-20, Oilsands, Tarsands, Tar Sands, Oil Sands, Alberta, Air Quality
    Date Created: 1984
  4. In-situ recovery process fluids [Download]

    Title: In-situ recovery process fluids
    Creator: Peake, E.
    Description: 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.
    Subjects: PAH, Alberta, Oilsands, Tar Sands, In-situ, Toxicity, Tarsands, Oil Sands
    Date Created: 1988
  5. Concurrent low flows in the Athabasca River basin [Download]

    Title: Concurrent low flows in the Athabasca River basin
    Creator: Bothe, R. A.
    Description: A hydrologic parameter that has become synonymous with water quality evaluations of rivers is the term “7Q10”. This term represents the annual minimum 7-day discharge at a particular location along a river, below which flows would be expected to occur in only 10% of the years. The complement to this definition is that there is a 90% chance in any year that the average 7-day flow would never be less than the 7Q10 value. Areal variability in climatic and physiographic parameters throughout the Athabasca River basin produces a number of possible low flow scenarios. The question is then: what is the likely flow at one location if the flow at another is known to be the 7Q10 flow? The statistical analysis that answers this question is called conditional probability. It is an approach whereby the distribution of flow at one location is mathematically related to flow at another. Scenarios of expected concurrent flow along the Athabasca River are developed on the assumption that a 7Q10 event occurs at either Hinton, Whitecourt, Athabasca, or Fort McMurray. While expected flows represent the most probable situations, it is possible that a 7Q10 event can occur from a totally different flow pattern than expected. The likelihood of these other scenarios is outlined where appropriate. Both annual and open water scenarios are provided. A number of interesting flow patterns are evident. The premise that low flow events throughout the Athabasca River basin cannot be treated as independent events is confirmed. In the annual flow case, concurrent 7Q10 flows can span the reach from the Lesser Slave River to Lake Athabasca. In the open water case, there is a reasonable chance that concurrent low flows could extend from Whitecourt to Athabasca or from Athabasca to Fort McMurray. All scenarios point to the value in basin-wide assessments of low flow.
    Subjects: Low Flow, Athabasca River, Alberta, 7Q10
    Date Created: 1989
  6. Athabasca tar sands corridor study. Volume 8 Appendix: Corridors and terminals [Download]

    Title: Athabasca tar sands corridor study. Volume 8 Appendix: Corridors and terminals
    Creator: Athabasca Tar Sands Corridor Study Group
    Subjects: Legislation, Oilsands, Oil Sands, Tarsands, Rights-of-way, Tar Sands, Pipeline, Alberta, Planning
    Date Created: 1974
  7. Control of black flies in the Athabasca River: Evaluation and recommendations for chemical control of Simulium arcticum Malloch [Download]

    Title: Control of black flies in the Athabasca River: Evaluation and recommendations for chemical control of Simulium arcticum Malloch
    Creator: Haufe, W. O.
    Description: The program was designed from feasibility studies to develop and evaluate chemical control of S. arcticum in the Athabasca River. This appeared to be the most immediately achievable and economically practical approach to prevention of severe pest outbreaks and to reduction of farm losses in livestock production. Projects and interagency participation were outlined within six objectives: 1. To identify and characterize the breeding sources of the black fly S. arcticum in the Athabasca River and to develop methods of treating the river with a pesticide to reduce the production of the pest in a selected area; 2. To determine the level and extent of reduction in breeding sources required in abatement operations to provide economic reductions of infestations in contiguous agricultural areas; 3. To estimate infiltration rates for populations of the pest reinfesting agricultural areas from sources outside the area of the abatement operation; 4. To develop methods of monitoring an abatement operation for deleterious effects of treatments on aquatic non-target organisms and the river environment; 5. To develop criteria for acceptable impact on the river environment in conjunction with specifications for pesticidal treatment of river systems; and 6. To assess the impact of infestations of S. arcticum and other related biting flies and the effect of abatement procedures on the productivity of livestock and development of livestock enterprises, and to evaluate the benefits of animal protection in the area. Primary emphasis in these studies has been placed on S. arcticum as the pest incriminated in severe outbreaks of biting flies affecting livestock enterprises in Athabasca County and Improvement District No. 18. The program has been designed to embrace the more extensive problems of biting flies in agriculture, and concomitantly to provide information necessary for management of problems of black flies that occur during the development of resource and recreational industries in northern Alberta.
    Subjects: Simulium, Methoxychlor, Athabasca River, Black Flies, Alberta
    Date Created: 1980
  8. Modelling the circulation and sediment distribution in the Athabasca Delta area [Download]

    Title: Modelling the circulation and sediment distribution in the Athabasca Delta area
    Creator: Harrington, R. A.
    Description: This project undertook an assessment of the potential for using satellite imagery to determine water quality parameters in the southwest end of Lake Athab8sca and to provide a mathematical model capable of simulating the circulation patterns in this area of the lake. A substantial amount of field data was collected for calibration purposes and served to ellucidate some of the hydraulic characteristics of the study area. The results indicated that water from the Athabasca River and its distributary channels could reach the north shore of the lake under conditions of moderately large inflow. It had been previously assumed that penetration of river water so far into the lake was unlikely. In addition, river water was found to extend up to at least 20 km northeast of the distributary channels. Water from the Embarras River and Fletcher Channel generally leaves the lake via the Chenal des Quatres Fourches while water from Big Point Channel generally discharges through the Riviere des Rochers. Correlation of LANDSAT imagery with contemporaneous water quality data yielded a high correlation between suspended sediment concentrations and band 6 digital response values. No other water quality parameters were correlated with the raw LANDSAT data. Principal component analysis of the satellite data indicated a high correlation between suspended sediment and the first principal component, which emphasized the infrared bands. In addition, conductivity was well correlated with the third principal component, which emphasized the difference between the visible bands. This result could prove beneficial in analysing satellite imagery since conductivity is a useful parameter for differentiating between lake and river water. A finite element model was developed which solves the vertically integrated momentum and continuity equations. Based on an implicit time stepping algorithm, the model was used to generate circulation patterns for an idealized representation of the study area.
    Subjects: Alberta, Remote Sensing, Tar Sands, Oilsands, Tarsands, Model, Athabasca Delta, Oil Sands, Sediment
    Date Created: 1982
  9. Northern river basins ecological and human health studies: Summary, relevance and recommendations [Download]

    Title: Northern river basins ecological and human health studies: Summary, relevance and recommendations
    Creator: Northern River Basins Human Health Monitoring Program Management Committee
    Description: The Northern River Basins Human Health Monitoring Program (the Health Program) was established in November 1994 to examine possible relationships between various environmental risk factors (including lifestyle factors as well as biological and chemical contaminants) and the health of northern residents. The Health Program was created in response to public concerns that the large scale Northern River Basins Study (NRBS) mainly examined ecological health, and did not include an explicit examination of human health. The Health Program was carried out by Alberta Health under the direction of a Management Committee representing eight government and public stakeholder groups. This document, “Northern River Basins Ecological and Human Health Studies: Summary, Relevance, and Recommendations” (Summary Document) was requested by the Management Committee of the Health Program. The purposes of this document are: (1) link the ecological information collected by the original NRBS program with the information provided by the Health Program; (2) summarize issues and findings of the Health Program; and, (3) provide recommendations for further study. The Management Committee felt that a document was needed that provided perspective and context for the Health Program. This document is organized into the following main sections: 1. Summary of ecological findings from the NRBS; 2. Summary of the Health Program; and 3. Recommendations for further studies in the Northern River Basins.
    Subjects: Alberta, Northern River Basins Study, Health
    Date Created: 1999
  10. Acute and subacute toxicity of different fractions of Athabasca bitumen to fish [Download]

    Title: Acute and subacute toxicity of different fractions of Athabasca bitumen to fish
    Creator: Alberta Environmental Centre
    Description: The purpose of this study was to determine the acute and subacute toxicity of bitumen to rainbow trout. The bitumen was collected along the banks of the Athabasca River downstream of Fort McMurray during 1984. Prior to experimentation, the bitumen was fractionated in water at 35°C, using an ultrasonic shaker. This procedure yielded three fractions: whole bitumen, extractable bitumen and residual bitumen. In order to assess the potential interaction of the fractions with the receiving waters (Athabasca River), three additional fractions were also generated: whole Athabasca River water, suspended solids (Athabasca River), dissolved fraction (Athabasca River). Acute toxicity of the six fractions was determined over a 96h period at concentrations of 1, 10, 50, 75 and 100 mg L-1. Subacute toxicity was determined by initially exposing the fish to the various fractions at 100 mg L-1 for 96 hours. For the next 24h, the tanks were flushed with dechlorinated municipal water, and the fish were left in this water for another 96h. At the end of the first 96h, and then at the end of the experiment, fish were euthanized and submitted for necropsy. Based on these studies, it can be concluded that: 1. The 96h LC50 of all six fractions was greater than 100 mg L-1. The fractions were considered not acutely toxic to fish. 2. In the acute studies, no significant histopathological changes were seen in fish exposed to the different fractions. 3. No histopathological changes indicative of toxicity were found in fish exposed to sublethal concentrations of the fractions. In addition, blood analysis data (electrolytes, pH, blood gases, enzymes and other biochemical parameters) were similar between principals and controls. 4. Overall, it was concluded that bitumen was not acutely toxic to fish under the dosages and conditions in which this study was conducted.
    Subjects: Tarsands, LC50, Oilsands, Oil Sands, Toxicity, Fish, Tar Sands, Alberta, Bitumen, Athabasca River
    Date Created: 1986