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Royal Society of Canada establishes expert panel on the tar sands

The Globe and Mail reports that, “A team of Canada’s top scientists (brought together by the Royal Society of Canada) is wading into the pitched debate over the damage the oil sands is causing to the environment and human health.”

“(The nine-member panel) will examine some of the most controversial accusations that have been levelled against industry: that it is damaging aquatic life; that it is causing elevated rates of cancer in nearby First Nations; that it produces green house gas-laden ‘dirty oil’.”

Their report is expected in the spring of 2011.

Steve Hrudey, a professor emeritus of environmental health sciences at the University of Alberta, will be the chair of the panel.

A University of Alberta newsletter says, “Hrudey is an internationally recognized authority in the fields of drinking water safety and environmental health risk assessment and management. His pioneering research on cyanobacterial toxins was a major impetus for Canada’s drinking water guideline on microcystin, and he was an architect of the restructured Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.”

A Canadian Water Network profile notes, “His 2004 book, Safe Drinking Water, co-authored with Elizabeth J. Hrudey, is a best seller with the International Water Association – IWA Publishing of London. …From 2000 to 2002, Dr. Hrudey served as a member of the Research Advisory Panel to the Walkerton Inquiry, and he served as Leader of the Protecting Public Health Program for the Canadian Water Network until July 2005.”
In 2001, a Royal Society of Canada expert panel on the future of food biotechnology released a report critical of genetically-engineered food approval processes. It was an important moment for our anti-GE food campaign, and our media release on that report is at http://canadians.org/media/food/2001/05-Feb-01.html.

More on Professor Hrudey at http://www.publichealth.ualberta.ca/news.cfm?story=48334 and http://www.cwn-rce.ca/index.php?fa=Participants.Profile&person_id=23.

The Globe and Mail article is at http://theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/scientists-seek-truth-on-oil-sands-damage/article1319806/?.