Fort McMurray, Home to 176 Square km of Tar Sands Tailings Ponds, Overwhelmed by Floods | DeSmog Canada

Fort McMurray, Home to 176 Square km of Tar Sands Tailings Ponds, Overwhelmed by Floods | DeSmog Canada.

On Friday the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta government’s industry regulator, released a report stating that tar sands companies have failed to comply with pre-existing agreements to limit the amount of water used in tar sands extraction and processing as well as the amount of polluted water that ends up in the region’s growing toxic tailings ponds.

The release of the report coincides with massive floods near Fort McMurray, wreaking havoc on the city’s infrastructure. Since Friday the region has seen between 80 and 180mm of precipitation. Major highways have been closed, roads have been partially washed out, buildings flooded and homes evacuated. The city of Fort McMurray officially declared a state of emergency today, while unseasonably high temperatures prompt snow melt and rain is forecast to continue throughout the week.

The immediate question is apparent: what threat does the flooding pose to the massive tailings ponds lining the Athabasca River and the millions of litres of toxic contaminants they contain?

According to recent industry figures, tailings ponds, which hold the billions of litres of contaminated waste water used in bitumen extraction and processing, cover 176 square kilometres of the tar sands region.

Does Human Rights Language Matter?

By Joanne Bauer

Does human rights language matter? This question comes up with alarming regularity in discussions of business and human rights. Yes, we now have the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set out standards for corporate conduct with respect to human rights and delineate government duties to ensure corporate accountability for violations.

But, the argument goes, in many situations human rights are considered sensitive, and invoking them can shut down the conversation and impede progress on finding collaborative solutions to ensuring business respects rights. Besides, everyone knows we are talking about the same thing.

But, if that is so, then why the sensitivity in the first place?

via Does Human Rights Language Matter?.