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Thursday, September 30, 2010

James Cameron Tours Alberta, Canada Oil Sands Site

Hollywood filmmaker believes Alberta's oilsands are a gift that could become a curse.

Cameron at a press conference on Wednesday in Alberta:
"It will be a curse if it's not managed properly. It can also be a great gift to Canada and to Alberta. I'm pragmatic enough to understand the powerful economic forces that are driving this development.
James Cameron touring oil sands site
Cameron's two-day visit to northeast Alberta, which included aerial and ground tours of oilsands sites and a visit to the Fort Chipewyan aboriginal community, familiarized him with the complex issues in the region. Cameron's initial view of the massive open-pit mines and tailings ponds was of a "horrific" blemish on the natural beauty of the forest. But he later found some hope in talking with oilsands experts that new technology and improved research could improve the industry's environmental footprint. Cameron acknowledged industry's work to start reclaiming some of the disturbed lands, but suggested questions remain about the feasibility of fully cleaning up tailings ponds, industry's commitment to funding such long-term projects and government regulations to ensure they get done properly. And he recommended a moratorium on development on open-pit mines until some greener technology is developed.

Cameron's biggest concern was for the aboriginal people living downstream from the oilsands, many of whom have expressed worry about pollutants damaging the river and wildlife they depend on to survive. Cameron a study about the environmental effects on people downstream to be inconclusive simply because the people in Fort Chipewyan are afraid to drink their own water, they are afraid to eat the fish and they are afraid to let their kids swim in the river.

It had been reported that Cameron had agreed to help First Nation communities in the Fort Chipewyan area with legal action against the government, but the director backed away from that position. Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation hopes Cameron's commitment includes assistance with a legal fight, but noted:
"Maybe he's backed away a bit, but we clearly understood what he said (Tuesday), because I've got it written down on paper. That's why I had my assistants sitting there taking notes. I made sure I covered my end."

The Center supports utilizing nuclear power as the heat source for producing oil from oil sands at Canadian sites to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  We agree with James Cameron that the open pits mines should be better managed or should not developed. First Nation communities and residents should demand percentage ownership and profits from the tarsand operations.  The Canadian government and the tarsand developers should provide ownership and profit sharing to First nation residents. (Edmonton Journal, 9/30/2010)
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