Reports in recent weeks confirmed that oil sands are adding carcinogens to Canada’s Athabasca River. The good news in the bad news is that the carcinogens are being carried in the air, and air pollution can be controlled.
Given the importance of the oil sands to our economy and our future, the needed solution must absolutely stop dust clouds carrying airborne particulates. Reportedly, the particulates travel 50 kilometers, depositing possible contaminants on melted snow and in the Athabasca River. Dust blowing off the surfaces of big expanses at mines can be controlled – better yet, prevented – but stopping airborne particulates must not create any unintended consequences as those reported about the Athabasca River. That is why it is critical that agencies and businesses trying to control the air pollution that develops at their sites verify the effects the dust suppressants they use can have on the environment. Today we have certified and verified environmental technologies (EnviroKleen® and EK35®) available that can stop airborne particulars.
Oil sands development located on the west bank of the Athabasca River. 28 February 2008. Photographs courtesy of Erin Kelly, published in Mongabay.com.
This CNN Q&A regarding the war in Afghanistan struck a chord with me. The environmental difficulties our troops encounter is really unimaginable for most of us. Just reading this list of questions and answers caused me to stop and pause, almost tasting the “choking sandstorms” soldiers weather in the summer. In just a few sentences regarding their challenges, you cannot but be affected by the condition of unpaved roads and the threat they pose to our troops; much is being done and much more needs done to counter these conditions. Midwest has helped the military in the past with similar dust issues, as illustrated by Major Steven A. Baker in this article published in Engineer – The Professional Bulletin of Army Engineers.
ReGeneration Productions is a company whose mission is to “create educational media that communicate the ideals and practice of urban sustainability.” Their first endeavor, Mission:Sustainable, gives a “green” makeover to individuals needing to integrate sustainable practices into their lives. In a recent blog post titled “Working soil so that soil works for us,” ReGeneration states that they believe that “sustainability comes down to knowing that each choice we make has a ‘cost.’ The true ‘cost’ is a combination of the economic, social and environmental costs set against the offsetting benefits associated with each choice we make.” This concept has interesting value to the commercial and industrial segment of our earth community.
As stewards of clean air, clean water and human health, our mission is to help make improvements in the work processes used by industrial customers that deliver economic, social and environmental benefits that exceed the cost of those improvements. The main areas of our work revolve around dust control, especially pm10 and pm2.5 health risks; sediment and erosion control, which pose risks to water and aquatic life; and stabilization that provides the social benefit of smooth, pothole free roadways for area residents while delivering improved business results and operating performance.
The amazing thing is that this is absolutely, positively doable today. There is so much improvement possible with the choices we make in the commercial and industrial arena while providing significant economic and social and environmental returns that we often say, “the best choices will not cost, they will pay.”