“Developing” the Hartselle sandstone formation in Alabama will be a multi-step process that involves mining or in situ extraction, then processing to separate the bitumen. Once the bitumen is extracted from the sand and clay, the bitumen must be processed into a heavy crude oil, which is then transported to a refinery for processing into petroleum products or exported overseas.
This post is the first in a series that will address bitumen mining, extraction and processing as it will presumably play out in Alabama, based on what is being revealed by companies actively pursuing oil sands mining in Utah and Kentucky.
Each step in the process is fraught with opportunities for contamination of the water, air and surfaces of northwest Alabama. Each step in the process will contribute in some way to the destruction of property values, quality of life, health and the natural beauty of northwest Alabama.