When researchers set out to question these claims, it comes as no surprise that there are serious problems.
Mercury, thallium and other pollutants accumulated in higher concentrations in snowpacks and waterways near and downstream from oilsands development than in more remote areas, said a study to be published Monday afternoon in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Upstream and undeveloped sites exposed directly to the McMurray Geologic Formation, the natural source of the oilsands, did not show high levels of pollutants.
So much for the 'it's all naturally occurring' argument that the Alberta Government has been trying to convince us of through their "joint monitoring program" with industry:
However, the Regional Aquatic Monitoring Program, or RAMP, a joint industry-government environmental body that monitors water in the Athabasca River and its tributaries, said in its 2009 report that generally, "water quality was similar between [test] stations located within and outside oil sands development and when compared to conditions prior to development."
The program has reported the pollutant levels occur naturally because of erosion of the natural geologic formation that contains the oilsands and are not caused by human activity.
I find it particularly interesting that the RAMP program's findings have never been published in a peer reviewed journal. I'm guessing that's because the peer review process is biased against propaganda.