Canada’s Tar Sands – 'Dirty, Toxic and Huge'

Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN - (IPS/TerraViva) - A small band of protesters stood in the
cold outside the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen Saturday night to shine
a small spotlight of attention on the fact that Canada is home to the
Alberta tar sands, the world’s largest and possibly most polluting
industrial project on the planet.

“It’s not just the huge CO2 emissions, it’s the water pollution,
destruction of the forests, impacts on the food supply and all of the
cancers the native people are getting,” said Janet Payne, an activist
from Britain. “It’s dirty, toxic and huge.”

Thousands of square kilometers of tar-laden soil and sands
underlying Canada’s boreal forests are being mined, and then boiled
with millions of liters of steaming water to extract the tar to produce
2.7 million barrels of oil a day, mostly to feed the insatiable
appetite of the United States.

“I feel strongly Canada is getting away with this environmental catastrophe. It’s time to put a spotlight on this,” Payne said.

She had participated in the day’s big march, saying it was like a music festival but with a strong message to the world.

“Everyone should be here,” she said. “Climate change is affecting everything in the world – we all should be standing up.”

At the end of the interview, three vans of Danish police pulled up
and surrounded the group of eight protesters, who were simply shivering
on the sidewalk holding two small banners. The police, in full riot
gear, demanded to know what was going on.

Assuming this reporter was the leader, they asked what the protest
was about and were told about the tar sands project. After the
mandatory identification checks, permission was given to continue the
protest – and two officers said they’d join in once their shift was

Maybe there is hope in Copenhagen.

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