This is part of our series on the Alberta oil sands.
Sulfur is produced as a by product in the refining of oil and natural gas, so naturally there is a lot of it here in the Alberta oil sands.
As of 2006 there were 15 million tons of the stuff piling up throughout the province and these three piles are just a small sample of that.
Owners are stuck with a sulfur glut. Low prices in the marketplace and the burden of maintaining and neutralising acidic water that runs off the sulfur blocks is no picnic. The cost to treat the runoff was up to $3.00 annually per ton a few years ago and demand does not look to be picking up any time soon.
Until that happens it looks like elemental sulfur piles like these outside Fort McMurray will continue to grow.
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