CANADA’S oil and gas producers are expected to discuss the effects of the oilsands and other chemicals on human health and the environment later this month.
The provincial oil ministers’ meeting is set to discuss changes to provincial regulations governing oilsands pollution, according to a news release.
The provinces are expected, among other things, to consider changes to how oilsands facilities are regulated and how those operations are monitored.
Alberta, for example, wants to change the rules governing oil spills and other toxic spills.
It is also expected to propose a review of its own regulations for the oil sands and other oilsands projects, which are regulated by a separate body.
The meeting comes at a time when Alberta is grappling with another potential health problem associated with oil sands projects: cancer.
A recent study from the University of Alberta and the University, British Columbia found the cancer-causing compound, benzene, was present in up to 15 per cent of the wastewater samples collected at oil and natural gas wells in B.C. The researchers found the contamination was widespread, even in areas with clean drinking water.
The report also found benzene was found in the drinking water at six of the 11 oil and water treatment facilities that tested positive for benzene.
Albertas Environmental Health Director Chris Bremner said the province is also looking into the effects that oil sands workers have on the environment and the health of people living nearby.
Bremner also noted that Alberta is the second largest oil producer in the country, with more than 1.5 million barrels per day of oil.
He said the Alberta government has been working closely with industry to reduce air, water and land contamination.
“There are environmental concerns around oil and the oilsand process and it’s one of those issues where you need to look at what is the most sustainable and responsible way to do it and that is the best way for the province to deal with the problem,” he said.
The Alberta Health Service, the provincial government’s health care agency, has also been working to reduce pollution and pollution-related health effects.
The agency has identified several chemicals and toxins that could pose a health risk.
Albertans who work in oilsands jobs could also face fines of up to $25,000 and the possibility of losing their jobs if they don’t clean up their workplaces.