Extreme Hydrocarbons

As a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports, the extreme hydrocarbons unearthed by the Alberta Tar Sands open pit mines are extremely toxic. As the study concludes, Tar Sands oil — the subject of a pending U.S. Coast Guard risk assessment for Salish Sea shipping — is highly carcinogenic, causing infertility and immune disorders in humans, and mutations in fish. As the most destructive project in North America, the Alberta Tar Sands — slated for expansion if the Port Metro Vancouver oil terminal is allowed to double in size — has the potential to spread that toxicity from the Athabasca River to the Fraser. Looking at the NASA photo of the Fraser River plume into the Salish Sea, it isn’t hard to imagine the devastation a pipeline leak or vessel spill there would cause.

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