October 2, 2014

October 2, 2014

Dangerous Beauty

Photograph by Garth Lenz

Disguised by the beauty of a reflection, this toxic tailings pond in Alberta, Canada, is a considerable health risk. Such vast lakes—made up of oil sands development residue, or tailings—are completely unlined, and 19 of them lie on either side of the Athabasca River. Individual ponds can range in size up to 8,850 acres.

Garth Lenz’s aerial photographs of landscapes transformed by energy production were recently featured on our photography blog, Proof.

13 comments
Quincy Von Wildbeast
Quincy Von Wildbeast

Amazing - a mirror of who we are, perhaps. Thank you for sharing this with us. 

Matt Olsen
Matt Olsen

Everyone wants to be a good environmentally conscience individual, but the only time anyone does something is when gas prices go up. If you heat your home, drive a car or use electricity, this contributes to the mess. Even electric cars get their electricity from burning fossil fuels. I appreciate this photo which all the technology to bring it to us contributed to the evil it was meant to fight, but a better fight would be to find a solution not blame the "man". We are all the "man".

Catherine Sutherland
Catherine Sutherland

Although I appreciate the photo, the subject is disgusting. 19 open necrotizing ulcers on our planet, deadly to all life....The oil sands should never have been touched and they should be shut down and healed over (if that's even possible).

Linda Petersen
Linda Petersen

"....made up of oil sands development residue, or tailings—are completely unlined, and 19 of them lie on either side of the Athabasca River. Individual ponds can range in size up to 8,850 acres"  This does not fit with our responsibillity to care for the earth.  If we use oil, we are complicit.  What will you do about it? 

Carol Monfrooe
Carol Monfrooe

I wonder how many birds have died in these ponds.

David Korte
David Korte

Wouldn't this be a considerable health risk for migratory birds? What is the plan to mitigate this--evaporation?

Joyce Thoresen
Joyce Thoresen

Quite a revealing and disturbing photo! Thanks for taking it to share with us. What a disaster already!

Special Offers

Shop National Geographic