Greenpeace activists obstruct Syncrude tar sands operation

July 24, 2008

    FORT MCMURRAY, AB, July 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Braving toxic fumes and the
same toxic tailings waste that earlier this year killed 500 ducks, Greenpeace
activists entered Syncrude's Aurora North tar sands operation early this
morning and blocked a pipe into the two-kilometre wide tailings pond.
    Shortly after 11:00 a.m today, 11 Greenpeace activists blocked the pipe
to prevent further toxic contamination of Alberta's environment. The activists
capped the opening of the pipe, locking a large device in place while several
other activists erected a triangular banner over another pipe depicting a
skull and crossbones which hung above the pipe's opening, giving the illusion
of toxic water gushing from the "mouth" of the skull. Several other activists
deployed a massive banner along the bank of the tailings pond, reading
"World's Dirtiest Oil: Stop the Tar Sands."
    "Big oil companies are pillaging Alberta's natural resources, robbing
freshwater from the Athabasca River to make giant lakes of toxic sludge that
are killing wildlife and poisoning local communities," said Mike Hudema, a tar
sands campaigner with Greenpeace. "Today we brought our message to the
perpetrators of this environmental crime - it's time to put the brakes to the
tar sands."
    The tar sands are the largest user of ground water in Alberta. Current
projects are licensed to remove more than 450 million cubic metres of water
from the Athabasca River each year, equivalent to about two and a half times
the water the City of Calgary uses annually. Additionally, elevated levels of
rare cancers and auto-immune diseases have been plaguing and killing members
of downstream communities like Fort Chipewyan, diseases which have been linked
to the industrial pollution from the tar sands.
    "For dozens of Alberta communities, the Athabasca River is their lifeline
and when it is threatened, the health and the way of life of those communities
is put at risk," said Greenpeace Tar Sands Campaigner Heather
Milton-Lightening. "Our activists feel that the risk these communities face
daily is far more significant than the risk we took today. If the government
refuses to stand up for their rights, we will."
    Greenpeace is calling for no new approvals on tar sands projects as a
first step; the introduction of legislation to ensure that no new tailings
ponds are built or expanded; that all existing ponds be cleaned up and fully
reclaimed; and that stiffer penalties be implemented for oil companies that
fail to meet imposed environmental regulations. In March of this year,
500 ducks landed on the very same Syncrude tailings pond, despite clear
environmental regulations that required Syncrude to have appropriate wildlife
deterrents in place.

    Note to editors: Greenpeace climate coordinator Dave Martin is available
    for comment from inside the operation. He can be reached at
    (416) 627-5004.

    High-resolution photos and HD video will be available at
www.greenpeace.ca/gallery.

For further information: Jessica Wilson, Media and Public Relations
Officer, (778) 228-5404; Mike Hudema, Tar Sands Campaigner, (780) 504-5601;
Heather Milton-Lightening, Tar Sands Campaigner, (780) 504-5567
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