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How oil exploitation in Alberta affect local enviorment - Essay Example

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The oil sands in the area contain a mixture of water, sand and clay that occur naturally. These components are saturated with bitumen, which is an intensely dense and viscous…
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How oil exploitation in Alberta affect local enviorment
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How Oil Exploitation in Alberta Affects Local Environment Alberta, Canada, is an area that is rich in bitumen that can be upgraded to form syntheticcrude oil. The oil sands in the area contain a mixture of water, sand and clay that occur naturally. These components are saturated with bitumen, which is an intensely dense and viscous state of petroleum. Natural bitumen deposits have been discovered in many countries but this paper will only review exploitation in Alberta. The crude oil discovered in Alberta, Canada is a rich natural source of energy that fetches significant amounts of revenue to the country. However, the exploitation of this natural resource comes with various effects on the local environment (Hein, 2014).
Effects of Exploitation on Local Environment
Despite the benefits associated with the exploitation, the process has numerously adverse effects on the environment. To begin with, oil sand exploitation in the area affects the availability of water in the area. The whole process requires large volumes of water for the separation of sand and oil. Therefore, the whole process of extraction brings about a deficiency in water content in Alberta (Alvarez, 2013).
The process of exploitation of oil in Alberta is associated with the introduction of harmful gases, as well as metals into the earth’s surface and atmosphere. Naturally occurring carbon dioxide and other harmful emission are exposed to the atmosphere during the exploitation. In addition, the exploitation process leads to the concentration of heavy metals such as nickel, mercury, copper and zinc, among many others in the area (Dusseault, 2002).
Admittedly, the exploitation process is associated with deforestation. Normally, trees in the area are cleared before exploitation starts. In addition, the overburden top soil is removed from the area of exploitation so as to increase the accessibility of the oil sand. This whole process has a general effect of soil erosion in the area. The exploitation of oil in Alberta also affects aquatic life. Research revealed that there exist a relationship between deformity of fish embryos and their exposure to oil sands. Therefore, as much as the exploitation process takes root, the aquatic life in the area is exposed to the oil sands, thus affected (Dusseault, 2002).
A research done in 2007 showed that wildlife and human beings had generally been affected by the exposure to the oil sands. For example, research done on moose revealed that the organisms had as much as 454 times the acceptable levels of arsenic in their body systems due to the exploitation process. Moreover, there have been great concerns about the impacts of the oil sands on public health. People living in Alberta, more so in the area where the exploitation takes place are at higher risks of cancer. Research shows that cancer is linked to the exposure of human life to tar present in the oil sands (Alvarez, 2013).
Land waste is also linked to the exploitation of oil in Alberta, Canada. Soon after trees have been cleared in the exploitation site, and the process is over, then the land remains useless since it can hardly support life. The greenhouse gases and heavy metals exposed to the earth’s surface make life support to be minimal, thus rendering the area wasteful. However, the economic importance of the areas can be restored by reclamation measures initiated by the Canadian government and Alberta local government (Dusseault, 2002).
Exploitation of oil in Alberta is also associated with water and substance contamination. This situation can be justified by the fact that more foreign substances such as metals are exposed to water bodies in Alberta, thus proving to be a health hazard to human and other forms of life (Alvarez, 2013).
In conclusion, the exploitation of oil in Alberta may be associated with a lot of benefits. However, the process is linked to adverse effects on the local Alberta environment. Therefore, it is the task of the government and other agencies to ensure that preventive measures are taken so as protect the environment and the life it support.

References
Alvarez J. (2013). Environmental Effects of Oil Sand: Journal of Petroleum Science Research. Science and Engineering Publishing Company.
Dusseault, M. (2002). Cod Heavy Oil Production with Sand in the Canadian Heavy Oil Industry. Alberta Department of Energy: Alberta.
Hein, F. (2014). Geology of the Oil Sand: Petroleum Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. Read More
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