InClimate 794; Just Say No to Tar Sands Oil

Keystone XL and the related pipes and trains for Canadian tar sands oil are often sited for environmental impact. The controversy about extracting, transporting and burning the crude often revolves around these factors, but besides the environmental degradation there are indications of direct concerns for human health.


Tar sands oil is a thick bitumen difficult to transport and refine. It is often thinned with toxins like benzene and is a dangerously polluting fossil fuel. The National Resources Defense Council posted information on numerous studies that confirm pollutants in the air, water and soil near tar sands development sites and a concern for rising cancer rates. It continues addressing toxic air emissions during transport and loading, diluted bitumen spills (one of which became the most expensive inland spill in US history), train derailments and explosions. And finally, its refining has increased pollution over conventional crude oil since it is diluted with toxins and has as much as 102 times more copper, 11 times more nickel and sulphur and 5 times more lead. There is also more heavy metal containing petroleum coke produced as a byproduct of tar sands along with an increased risk of refinery accidents.

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