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H2Oil, by Shannon Walsh (Hour Magazine, cover)

Dirty oil, sold dirt cheap: Montreal filmmaker Shannon Walsh’s H2Oil digs deep into Alberta’s multi-billion-dollar oil industry

As Canadians, we are the proud owners of what may be the most environmentally destructive undertaking of our or any other era. The multi-billion-dollar industry that extracts oil from the Athabasca oil sands is internationally controversial and environmentally omni-destructive – it has also made Canada the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. and created an economic boom in Alberta’s North that, despite claims of being only short term, is impossible to deny.

In recent years, the oil sands have become the progenitor of numerous grandiose claims: Proud proponents of the industry like to say that it’s an endeavour on a scale as massive as the pyramids in Egypt or the Great Wall of China. And indeed, the oil sands’ byproducts can be seen from space in the form of giant, leaking tailings ponds. The so-called ponds are actually man-made dammed lakes filled with billions of litres of carcinogen-laced, formerly fresh glacier water that has been used to clean some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.

Shannon Walsh’s H2Oil, the first feature-length documentary made about the Alberta oil sands, focuses on the oil sands’ effects on the province’s water, and the people who drink it, study it, sell it and fish in it – those who were the first to notice that something was very wrong in the water table.  Read article