An aerometric program for effects studies in the Athabasca oil sands region

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  • Alberta Environment is in the process of reviewing the scientific and technical basis for refinement of a regulatory approach to the environmental impact of present and future industrial development in the Athabasca oil sands region. The review has encompassed the results of 10 years (1975 to 1985) of studies conducted under the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) as well as the results of other studies conducted in the oil sands region and elsewhere in the province. Reports in the international scientific literature were also considered in the review. The result of this review was a plan for a five-year biophysical monitoring program to provide the necessary scientific and technical information upon which to base an effective regulatory approach. The documentation for the plan identified forest vegetation in the oil sands region as the most likely ecosystem component to show the effects of pollutant accumulation over the near-to-medium period of time, defined as 5 to 25 years. Aquatic ecosystems and soils were assessed as requiring longer periods of time to manifest detectable changes resulting from pollutant deposition. In preparation for the biophysical monitoring program, a study was initiated to evaluate the requirements of an air quality and meteorological monitoring program to support the biophysical program, as well as the design of such an aerometric program. This study was carried out by Concord Scientific Corporation with assistance from Dominion Ecological Consulting Ltd., Yarranton Holdings Ltd., and Aquatic Resource Management Ltd. This report presents the results of the work and the recommendations of the study team.

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