After the bitumen is removed, vast quantities of "tailings" remain, which are the residue containing everything but the bitumen.
The current market price is quite low, so Syncrude is storing it for future sale.
As the coal is removed from one hole,
the "overburden" from the next area is pushed into it.
historically served as a fuel for many purposes. Coal in the ground is part of the larger water system of the planet,
acting as a filter as water percolates down to the aquifer below. When the soil, trees, and other flora are stripped off,
rainwater, instead of soaking into the living soil, reacts with the exposed coal producing acid mine drainage.
Large areas are overturned to obtain the phosphate, which is processed with volumes of sulphuric acid, leaving large residues of radioactive, acidic waste,
and producing large amounts of fluorine gas, which is extremely toxic to all animals.
All manner of waste collects in these impoundments, from fetuses to fecal matter. Due to the drugs and hormones fed the sows (females), their feces are pink.
Once this aggregate is together in a lagoon,the wind will tend to accumulate the floating solids in one place.
"The vivid color photographs of J Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting...information and form work together, to devastating effect."
-Roberta Smith, The New York Times