The Knowledge to Act


Media Availability: With Keystone spill, questions remain about oil's impact on fresh water

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Oil spills, such as the recent spill from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, will have an impact on the surrounding environment.

Experts from IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA)—the world's freshwater laboratory—are available for media to break down what we know about the impact of oil on fresh water systems.
Groundbreaking research at IISD-ELA is currently exploring how oil behaves when it enters fresh water systems, and what the most effective clean-up methods are.

To speak with any of the experts below, please contact Sumeep Bath at or +1 (204) 958 7700 ext. 740.

Vince Palace, Senior Scientist, IISD Experimental Lakes Area

Dr. Vince Palace is an aquatic toxicologist with over 25 years' experience working on chemical and non-chemical stressors on fresh water. He is leading one of the studies at IISD-ELA on the effects of oil on fresh water, and has led projects on the impacts of agriculture, hydroelectric power, the oil and gas industry, and mining on aquatic ecosystems.




Matthew McCandless, Executive Director, IISD Experimental Lakes AreaMatthew McCandless has over 20 years' experience in hydrology, water quality and bioprocessing—combining both policy and technical research. Matthew is the executive director of IISD Experimental Lakes Area. He directs the science and policy portfolios of the world's freshwater laboratory, and oversees its administration and operation.




Several studies are currently being pursued at the IISD-ELA to address public and regulatory concerns regarding potential environmental effects of oil spills and uncertainty regarding the best clean-up methods following a spill, especially for freshwater environments. One study, led by Drs. Jules Blais (University of Ottawa), Mark Hanson (University of Manitoba) and Diane Orihel (Queen’s University) will examine the ecological impacts of contained diluted bitumen model spills in a freshwater boreal lake. A companion study, led by Dr. Vince Palace (IISD-ELA) will compare the effectiveness of different methods for cleaning spilled oil form shorelines. Both studies are part of a large multidisciplinary program that includes participation from governments (ECCC, DFO, NRCan, OMECC, OMNRF),  regulators (NEB), academic partners (Universities of Manitoba, Ottawa, Queen’s, INRS, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Mcgill)  and industry (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Canadian Energy Pipelines Association (CEPA)). For more information, please contact Sumeep Bath at

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, Toronto and Beijing, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

For more information, please contact: or +1 (204) 958 7700 ext. 706