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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 28 No. 6, p. 1957-1962
     
    Received: Sept 30, 1998


    * Corresponding author(s): renaults@cc.UManitoba.ca
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doi:10.2134/jeq1999.00472425002800060035x

Responses of Boreal Plants to High Salinity Oil Sands Tailings Water

  1. S. Renault *,
  2. E. Paton,
  3. G. Nilsson,
  4. J. J. Zwiazek and
  5. M. D. MacKinnon
  1. Dep. of Renewable Resources, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada;
    Syncrude Canada Ltd., Edmonton Research Centre, 9421-17 Ave., Edmonton, AB T6N 1H4, Canada.

Abstract

Abstract

In the extraction of bitumen from oil sands ore, large volumes of railings water (CT water) containing elevated levels of Na, sulfate, bicarbonate and chloride are produced. High salinity process waters will probably affect terrestrial reclamation options. The present study tested the impact of tailings waters on boreal forest species including aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.), buffalo berry [Sheperdia canadensis (L.) Nutt], northwest hybrid poplar (Populus deltoides × Populus balsamifera), dogwood (Cornus stolonifera Michx.), jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.), and white spruce [Picea glauca (Moench) Voss]. Seedlings were grown in solution culture containing mineral nutrients and different dilutions of CT water, with and without supplemental salts (Na2SO4 and NaCl). After 4 wk of treatment, dogwood, hybrid poplar, and buffalo berry showed relatively high resistance to saline CT waters. Conifer seedlings developed leaf necrosis in all treatments, while aspen seedlings rapidly lost their foliage and produced new leaves. In comparison to the controls, elevated Na levels were measured in plant tissue of all species grown in CT water. However, some differences between species were observed, with jack pine seedlings showing much higher Na content than aspen, dogwood, or hybrid poplar. In hybrid poplar, the accumulation of Na was accompanied by a significant reduction in K, Mg, Ca, and P. Buffalo berry, aspen, jack pine, and white spruce showed elevated levels of S after growth in the sulfate-enriched CT waters. High tissue Na content did not induce leaf injury in dogwood, hybrid poplar and buffalo berry, suggesting possible Na resistance.

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