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FREAK Shots: The Oil Sands

Photographer Louis Helbig has been photographing Canada’s oil sands mining (featured in a Freakonomics contest last week) for several years, with fascinating results.
This is a photo of an open pit mine:

DESCRIPTIONAll Photos: Louis Helbig

The overburden, “a layer of earth, sand and gravel up to 100 feet deep covering the bitumen” must be stripped before mining begins:


A tar pond, with a scarecrow. Birds often land on the tar ponds and are poisoned by the toxic water:


A bitumen slick: