Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In pictures: The Blue Planet's Toxic New Colors By Dan Smith

Tar-sand oil -- Alberta, Canada The roof of this tank of oil at Fort McMurray's plant in Alberta may look corroded and rusty, but its manufacturer has assured Fair that it's in fully operational condition. The tank can hold up to 450,000 barrels of oil that has been "upgraded" from tar sand. According to Canada's Ministry of the Environment, Alberta will double its current production over the next ten years to more than 1.8 million barrels a day, leveling more than 700,000 acres of forest. 

 Tissue slurry -- Ontario, Canada This man-made lake in Terrace Bay, Ontario, Canada, is more than 500 metres long. It's an aeration pond, part of the waste-treatment system at a factory that produces pulp for Kimberly-Clark tissues. "The treated water is returned to its source -- often a river," says Fair. Each yellow cone is an "agitator" that aerates and churns the liquid, assisting its breakdown. According to Worldwatch Institute figures, if recycled paper was used instead, 64 per cent less energy would be needed.

 Louisiana, US This emerald-tinted lake near Geismar, Louisiana, includes gypsum, uranium and radium. These chemicals result from manufacturing phosphorous fertiliser and are dumped into this impoundment to solidify. The world's supplies of phosphates are dwindling and most are located in the US, China and Morocco. Unlike oil, however, there is no known renewable alternative for making fertiliser. "You think the resource crisis is in oil?" says Fair. "Think again." 

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