The tailings “ponds” that are filled with toxic wastewater from oil sands mining now store enough toxic fluid to fill Lake Louise – 2000 times over! They uproot the boreal forest, scar the landscape and harm those living nearby.

Despite the damage, you can bet that curbing fossil fuel production and putting aside the funds needed to implement safe clean-up isn’t often top of the agenda for the petroleum industry. Nor is it a conversation that appears regularly in Alberta’s newspapers.

For many Albertans, though, the impact of tailings waste on the environment and human health is a real concern. Here’s what, submitted via Environmental Defence’s letter to the editor tool, they wanted to see talked about in the pages of their local papers!

John Hiemstra wanted to highlight that the tailings “ponds” “leak and pollute surrounding land and water, kill migratory birds and vulnerable wildlife, pose a serious risk of catastrophic dam failure, and violate Indigenous rights by severely reducing their relationship with the land as constitutionally guaranteed in Treaties.” 

Letter to the editor on tailings by John HiemstraAndy Kubrin, an Albertan father, asked us to consider that “the ponds are leaking into areas where our Indigenous friends and neighbours live, hunt, and gather foods. Imagine how you would feel if someone flooded your home with toxic goo?” 

Letter to the Editor by Andy KurbiinAnother concerned father, Keven Guerrero-Hunik, wrote that “Our beautiful Earth sustains us and countless other life forms, and it is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve it for future generations.” 

A letter to the editor by Keven Guerrero-HunikPamela Cole, a retiree in Calgary also expressed concern at the growing problem. She pointed out that the Alberta government subsidizes the oil and drilling companies every year, ending up with more harm to the Earth.

A letter to the editor on tailings by Pamela ColeAnd Janice Rider, a mother with a background in zoology and conservation, shared that it frightens her “to know that millions of liters of water leak from tailings ponds daily.” She wrote “toxic tailings ponds pose a risk to the water systems people, wildlife, and plants are dependent upon. The oil and gas industry needs to assume responsibility for dangerous waste created through extraction. Tailings ponds leach chemicals into groundwater as well as surface water. They also contaminate land.” 

A letter to the editor on tailings by Janice RiderGetting right to the point, Sandra Finley made an emphatic statement! 

A letter to the editor on Tailings by Sandra FinleyAnd Finally, Aleyna Sheradha joined the call for accountability, starting with “I am a native Albertan deeply concerned about the impact of tailings from tar sands development on our Athabaska River, ground water and the effects on wildlife and humans living nearby.”

A letter to the editor on tailings by Aleyna SheradhaBringing the toxic tailings and the need to curb and phase down fossil fuels into the conversation – in Western Canada and everywhere – remains critical. Let’s keep talking!

Have something to add to the conversation? Write a Letter to the Editor using our handy tool. Be sure to use your own words and feel free to select the local papers you prefer.

Write Your Letter here: