Tar Sands Extraction Destroying Environment – Causes, Effects, Solutions

sand tar extraction is destroying our planet


Tar sands extraction is destroying the environment by causing ecological problems for the living ecosystem.


It is known as oil sands, bituminous sand, or crude bitumen

Tar Sands is defined as unconventional petroleum sediment. It is a mixture of naturally occurring water, clay, sand, and a thick substance named bitumen. Bitumen is a sticky and vicious kind of hydrocarbon. It comes in two forms that are as follows:

  • relatively consolidated sandstone
  • Loose sands


Tar Sands is extracted from deep underground or near-surface deposits by two methods known as surface mining and in situ mining.

  • Surface Mining: Open-pit mining is used for extracting tar sands deposits that are near the surface. Then the extracted material is taken to extraction plants.
  • In Situ Mining: The excavation process is carried out where tar sands deposits are found. Then hot steam or any solvent that dissolves vicious bitumen is injected in excavated place. The loosened bitumen reaches the surface through the well.


Tar Sands extraction is carried out for several reasons.

1. Economic Benefits: It has huge economic benefits associated with it. Tar Sands can be refined into crude oil.

2. Second Largest Oil Field: It is the other largest oil field and only 20% of deposits have been accessed so far.

3. Stable Economy: Due to the large supply of Tar Sands extraction, it makes the economy of the country more stable as compared to other oil fields.

4. Source of Energy: Tar Sands is used for the production of petroleum products such as gasoline and it can be used for energy production.

Also read: Deep Sea Mining and Its Negative Effects on the Environment


Tar Sands extraction has negative impacts on the environment. The effects of Tar Sands extraction are listed below.

1. Mining Pollution: Tar Sands extraction is conducted through mining that adversely impacts the ecosystem of the Earth causing air, water, and land pollution.

2. Air Pollution: A considerable amount of energy is required to extract Tar Sands and fossil fuels are generally used for energy production. This whole process is responsible for causing air pollution by releasing toxic air pollutants in the air.

3. Carbon Foot Print: Tar Sands extraction and further petroleum products generation from it releases more carbon into the atmosphere as compared to conventional fuels. Read: All You Need To Know About Carbon Footprint And Its Importance.

4. Water Pollution: Hot steam injection during Tar Sands extraction causes contamination of underground water reserves. Surface water gets polluted with runoff from mining sites.

5. Land Pollution: The Tar Sands excavation sites cause land pollution. Huge quantities of waste are generated from mining sites.

6. Marine Pollution: Tar Sands extraction could lead to marine pollution where it negatively affects marine organisms.


Solutions to Tar Sands extraction are listed below.

1. Land Rehabilitation: It is a general solution to surface mining. Restoring land could lessen the effects of tar sands extraction.

2. Bioremediation Methods:  There are number of bioremediation techniques that can be used for cleaning up the polluted sites due to the release of hydrocarbon in the surroundings.

3. Waste Management: Waste generated from mining sites should be disposed off properly to reduce the environmental impacts.

4. Less dependence on Fossil Fuel: By adopting alternative energy sources such as solar power, wind energy, we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuel combustion. Also check out: Renewable Alternative Energy Resources – Advantages and Disadvantages.

5. Adopt Alternative Fuels: Adopting alternative fuels is another good option, but it has its own disadvantages. For more info: What Are Alternative Fuels? Types, Benefits, and Importance


The second-largest oil field is Tar Sands and it has many economic benefits that could contribute to economic development. However, environmental protection is equally important for any country. Environmental degradation of ecological resources is creating numerous problems for living creatures. Freshwater resources are declining all around the world due to water pollution and many other reasons mostly caused by anthropogenic activities.

Also check out Dematerialisation – Environmental Sustainability Benefits

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