15 Frightening Facts About Canada's Booming Tar Sands


Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute

Since BP spoiled the Gulf of Mexico, everyone’s talking about the Canadian tar sands.

The sands are the second largest source of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia. They could lead Canada to becoming the first source of oil for the U.S. But experts warn about high water consumption, fast-growing greenhouse emissions and destruction of local forests.

Here’s the brutal reality behind the incredible aerial photos we posted earlier this week.

The Canadian oil sands are the second largest source of crude oil after Saudi Arabia.

Canada could become the top oil crude source for the U.S. in 2010.

The oil sands stretch 54,826 square miles, an area bigger than England and almost the size of Florida.

Tar sand production requires two to four barrels of water for one barrel of crude oil.

23 billion cubic feet of water are diverted every year from the local river. That's 7 times more than what the region's capital uses.

The total size of the lakes made from oil extraction is bigger than Vancouver.

The Alberta region contains 171.3 billion barrels of oil - about twice as much as The UAE.

Canada is eighth on the list of the top 15 countries with the most potential to increase oil production.

The world's oil sands production went up 225% in the last decade.

40% of the oil sands area is up for grabs, with hungry China leading the way.

An estimated billion gallons leak from the waste water ponds every year.

Oil sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse emission gas in Canada.

Oil sands emit twice as much sulfur dioxide per barrel than other oil production sites.

232 square miles of coniferous forest have been disturbed and 386 square miles of forest have been approved for surface mining.

The ecosystem of specific areas in the region is expected to change, going from 48% wetland to 35%, even after a mine closure.

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