CEMA announces Nitrogen Management Recommendations for Wood Buffalo



    FORT McMURRAY, AB, Sept. 2 /CNW/ - The Cumulative Environmental
Management Association (CEMA) announces the release of an Interim Nitrogen
(Eutrophication) Management Recommendations and Work Plan for the Regional
Municipality of Wood Buffalo. This report, its recommendations and related
work plan were prepared by the NO(*)SO(2) Working Group of CEMA to address the
potential fertilization (eutrophication) environmental impact issues
associated with regional nitrogen oxides emissions.
    The Report has 15 key recommendations and calls for important and
expanded regional monitoring and a five year research program to develop
nitrogen loading criteria for the region. It recommends the establishment of a
multi-stakeholder steering committee and the continued cooperation between
CEMA and the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association and the Regional Aquatics
Monitoring Program.
    The Report recommends that no levels for nitrogen deposition be set at
this time due to the current low to moderate eutrophication risk levels in the
region and the lack of information. Further research and monitoring must be
undertaken to better understand nitrogen deposition in the region and the
levels that could adversely affect ecosystems. Finally, the development of
nitrogen limits for sensitive ecosystems and an implementation plan for the
Wood Buffalo region will be necessary.
    "CEMA has forwarded copies of the Interim Nitrogen (Eutrophication)
Management Recommendations and Work Plan to the provincial and federal
governments for their consideration." Stated CEMA Executive Director, Glen
Semenchuk, "This year has been very productive for CEMA. This important
document is our second Management Plan of 2008."

    CEMA is a nonprofit association based in Fort McMurray, Alberta. CEMA's
mandate is to develop frameworks and guidelines to manage cumulative
environmental effects from development in the region and to presents these
recommendations to the government for implementation. To date CEMA has
produced hundreds of reports and 8 Management Plans.
    For additional information please see the backgrounder or visit
www.cemaonline.ca for a complete copy of the report.



    
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                                 BACKGROUNDER
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    CEMA's Interim Nitrogen (Eutrophication) Management Recommendations and
Work Plan addresses potential nitrogen eutrophication (fertilization) issues
associated with regional industrial emissions of nitrogen compounds. This
document is presented as "interim" because addition studies and evaluations
are necessary to develop a management framework that has specific nitrogen
eutrophication based management criteria.
    Nitrogen deposition to the environment resulting from urban, agricultural
and industrial emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO(*)) and/or ammonia (NH(3)) can
have a fertilizing effect on ecosystems, referred to as eutrophication. The
critical load of nutrient nitrogen is defined as the highest load at which
undesirable eutrophication effects do not occur, based on present knowledge.
Nitrogen is a growth-limiting nutrient in most boreal ecosystems and natural
habitats are characterized by slow-growing species adapted to low nitrogen
conditions. With increased air-borne nitrogen deposition, these species may be
outcompeted by faster growing species more able to exploit increased nitrogen
availability. This may result in loss of biodiversity and/or characteristic
plant species. Loss of species diversity has been documented in the UK where
current mean deposition is 20 kg N ha(-1) y(-1). Low to moderate deposition of
nitrogen may result in increased primary productivity (biomass production);
very high levels of deposition may cause reduced productivity. Reversal of
this eutrophication process after anthropogenic nitrogen deposition ceases may
take a very long time. Nitrogen deposition to terrestrial ecosystems at a rate
greater than the uptake rate by vegetation will, over time, result in leaching
of nitrogen into groundwater and/or surface waters and may cause both aquatic
eutrophication and soil acidification. With the increasing NO(*) emissions in
the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) due to oilsands development,
and based on the results of limited regional modeling and monitoring, nitrogen
eutrophication has been identified as a potential environmental issue that
should be addressed. The risk of nitrogen eutrophication impacts in the region
is difficult to quantify and will in large part depend on the pace and nature
of future oil sands development and the ability to control and minimize
industrial nitrogen emissions.





For further information:

For further information: Corey Hobbs, Communications Director,
Cumulative Environmental Management Association, (780) 881-4943,
Corey.hobbs@cemaonline.ca

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