139-1 Athabasca Oil Sands Reclamation Challenges and Research Programs.

See more from this Division: S11 Soils & Environmental Quality
See more from this Session: General Soils and Environmental Quality: I
Monday, November 1, 2010: 8:15 AM
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 103A, First Floor
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Clayton Dubyk and Xiao Tan, Environment, Shell Canada Energy Ltd., Fort McMurray, AB, Canada
 Oil sands mining is one of the main industries in the Athabasca region of Alberta, Canada, which lies in the boreal forest zone. During the mining processes, surface soil (peat or LFH and mineral soils) is stripped and stockpiled for reclamation. To reclaim disturbed lands and to meet the goal of creating a self-sustaining, locally common boreal forest regardless of end land use is a big challenge to the oil sands industry in Alberta. Concerns are related to how to optimize soil salvage techniques to enhance native species establishment in reconstructed landforms; how to place appropriate depth and types of reclamation soils on overburden waste dump or tailings sands and understand the performance of these reclamation covers, particularly on water and nutrient dynamics in reclamation covers. Revegetation following landform reconstruction and soil placement is another critical activity for re-establishing functional ecosystems such as wetlands and uplands. Other challenging issues include salt loading to soil covers, hydrocarbon existence in the reclamation materials, high soil pH, and water quality, etc. Completed and ongoing research programs conducted by universities and consultants to address reclamation challenges will be discussed. An instrumented watersheds case study will be used to help understanding the fundamental processes controlling reconstructed landscape evolution. Results of research programs will be used to optimize reclamation practices and support the development of management frameworks in the oil sands region.