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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Industry Propaganda On Toxic Tailings Ponds

This is how propaganda works: present facts selectively so that they take on the appearance of objective information.

The video below, produced by the Alberta Energy Regulator, is described as 'educational'. The meaning and use of the word 'education' here is part of the propaganda delivery system itself. In other words, to educate citizens about tailings ponds would involve informing them about, not shielding them from, the controversial aspects and deleterious effects of the latter. How does it unfold?

The first move is to intentionally exaggerate the oilsands tailings ponds environmental credentials and associate their existence with something we would see as valuable. Thus, in this video, tailings ponds are depicted as safe, sustainable and even environmentally friendly. They are a necessary consequence of mining raw materials--raw materials that are turned into things we desire and need.

The next move is to describe tailings ponds in the most innocuous way possible as "a mixture of mostly sand, clay, water and oil". The reality is that tailings ponds are a sludge-like mix of water, sand, silt and petrochemical waste products containing a number of toxic chemicals, including five of the World Health Organization’s ten chemicals of major public concern. In effect, carcinogens such as arsenic and benzene and chemicals that impair development such as lead and mercury leach into river systems from toxic tailings ponds.

If you want a more accurate picture of Alberta's Tailings ponds see this detailed report from the NRDC (National Resources Defence Council)…/AlbertaTailingsPond…

The greenwashing of toxic tailings ponds as environmentally safe is on a par with the idea of 'clean' coal. Below is the propaganda video from Alberta's Energy Regulator

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