peace river

Summer and CO2 in the air

Two people placing a small plant into the ground.

Ahhh. Summer has arrived, and Terra Informa’s got your gardening Q’s covered with our new segment, Dispatches from the Dirt. Of course, it’s hard to enjoy the weather if the skies are black with fumes—and making you sick. This begs the question, how does one find out if the environment is the cause of certain illnesses in the first place? Finally, we get an economist’s guide to the complex climate change negotiations from a Killam Prize winner.

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Hydroelectric Dams – Good, Bad, and Ugly

This week we’re dedicating the entire show to a look at dams. They allow us to irrigate farmland and produce electricity, but they can also flood vast areas, alter wildlife migration, and force entire cities to relocate. We investigate the impacts, both positive and negative, of some of the biggest dams ever built. Then we take an in-depth look at the controversial Site C dam that’s planned for northern BC. Representatives from BC Hydro, the Wilderness Committee, and Citizens United to Save the Peace all weigh in on the project. And as always, we start things off with your wrap up of the week’s top news headlines.

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The Site C dam, proposed for the Peace River in BC. Image courtesy of BC Hydro.

Special Investigative Report on Pollution in Peace River, Alberta

This week we have a special feature lined up for you.  Terra informa correspondents Andy Read and David Kaczan head into the field to investigate the on-going conflict between farmers and the petrochemical industry in a community near Peace River, Alberta.  Along with Myles Curry, they explore this issue as an example of the challenge inherent in balancing the economic benefits of industrial development against its social and environmental costs.

Shells Peace River Gas Complex

Environmental News Headlines

Syncrude Found Guilty

Syncrude guilty in Alberta duck deaths (CBC)

Dead ducks in a tailings pond — how it happened (Edmonton Journal)

It’s official: Syncrude is a tar sands criminal

Alberta Govt Pays for Tar Sands Ad

Alberta pays to deliver oilsands message, Province buys half-page ad after premier’s letter rejected (Edmonton Journal)

U.S. Politicians Oppose 2,000-Mile Oil Sands Pipeline

Gulf Oil Disaster Update

More testing needed for giant Gulf oil skimmer

Helix Producer could be collecting spilled oil by July 7

Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher


Investigating Pollution in Peace River

A small community of farmers just north of the town of Peace River, in a locale called three creeks, have been complaining about chemical smells that drift over their properties. Preliminary analysis of the ambient air quality has detected cancer causing compounds such as Benzene, Tolulene and Xylene amongst the odours. Quantities are small and reportedly below the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives, but the locals are anxious, and in some cases, getting angry.

But what we found in Peace River was a prime example of a challenge that so many communities face all across this country, and particularly so in the resource rich western provinces. Industrial development brings jobs, government revenues and shareholder profits. But sometimes there are downsides, and ordinary Canadians find themselves burdened with painful social and environmental costs.

This week on Terra Informa, we explore a darker side of resource development. We took our microphones to oil wells, farmers fields and folk’s living rooms. We heard from people on both sides of the argument. We didn’t discover the mysterious source of the chemical odours, but that wasn`t our goal. What we wanted was to document the constant challenge in balancing industrial development, and the economic benefits it brings, with the need to protect our health and our environments.

If you have thoughts on this weeks show leave a comment or send us an email (