There was a study in the Canadian Medical Journal, released in August 2009, about the high cancer rates in the natives living near the Tar Sands operations at Ft MacMurray Alberta.
Canadian mainstream media is not reporting this study [or much at all about the plight of the natives living near the Tar Sands]. I only saw the report on Ft. Chip cancer rates because the Gaurdian, from England, had an article on it's website as part of their coverage of a protest in England called "Climate Camp" [also not being reported on in Canadian media]. One of the Climate Camp protestors is George Poitras, a Ft. Chip native, who is at Climate Camp to bring attention to this aspect of the Tar Sands operations.
I copied the Gaurdian article below.
The CMAJ study link is below that, and some other links.
-----------Gaurdian article by George Poitras, a former Chief from the Ft Chip area:
UK companies are extracting oil from our traditional lands.
We believe it's killing us - and that's why I'm attending Climate Camp
My people are dying, and we believe British companies are responsible. My community, Fort Chipewyan in Alberta, Canada, is situated at the heart of the vast toxic moonscape that is the tar sands development. We live in a beautiful area, but unfortunately, we find ourselves upstream from the largest fossil fuel development on earth. UK oil companies like BP, and banks like RBS, are extracting the dirtiest form of oil from our traditional lands, and we fear it is killing us.
We have come to call the tar sands "bloody oil". This is why, this week, I am coming to London to attend the Camp for Climate Action, with the aim of internationalising the campaign for a complete tar sands moratorium.
We believe the extraction of oil from Canada's tar sands is having a devastating impact on our indigenous people. This year, a study confirms that there are elevated levels of rare and other cancers among indigenous residents who live directly downstream from the tar sands activity, and that the contamination of our waters, snow, vegetation, wildlife and fish has grown exponentially in the past five years.
This evidence, however, is never acknowledged by the Albertan or Canadian governments, or the oil companies investing in the tar sands, when they promote it globally as being "environmentally sustainable".
People deserve to know the life and death impacts of the tar sands, especially residents of the UK, because your oil companies and banks are some of the biggest players.
In 2006, our community's physician informed the responsible authorities that he was diagnosing disproportionate levels of unusual cancers. Rather than come to his aid, the provincial and federal health authorities charged him with "causing undue alarm" to our people; a charge that remains outstanding. Furthermore, we have proven that the levels of metals like mercury, arsenic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in our waters and sediment are abnormally high. Combined, these metals are known carcinogens that cause the type of rare cancers found in our community. But the government and oil companies continue to dismiss these claims, despite the rigorous scientific methods employed.
When the cancer study was released in February 2009, it did two things for residents of my community. First, it vindicated us. It proved our fears that we were burying our loved ones all too frequently were valid. Second, it created further anxiety in us because we believed that any one of us living in our community was now much more susceptible to becoming afflicted with cancer in the future.
Despite western scientists proving that there are elevated levels of metals in the water and sediment, vegetation, fish and snow; that the air quality in the region is worse than other geographic regions in Canada; and that the acid rain disposition is greater than other locales; the Alberta and Canadian governments continue to deny any of this evidence.
So, since 2006, our lives have been consumed with making governments and oil companies responsible and accountable in their quest to exploit the resources from our traditional homelands, a challenge that is often characterised as a "David & Goliath" situation.
Our community has called for a moratorium on any further approvals of these multibillion-dollar mega-projects. We have had support from doctors, former politicians, indigenous councils, and entire provinces for the moratorium. But we have never been heeded.
Alberta's tar sands are now the subject of three legal actions by indigenous governments against the government of Alberta for not consulting with its indigenous communities before going ahead with this development, which has been called "the most destructive project on earth".
We realise that the development of Alberta's tar sands is no longer just an issue central to those of us living in its direct path. Rather, it has become a global challenge. The greenhouse gases emitted are contributing to climate change globally - extracting oil from these sludgy deposits produces three to five times as much CO2 as conventional oil. The Alberta and Canadian governments unsparingly spend millions of dollars to promote investment in the tar sands worldwide. Foreign oil companies, including BP and Shell, are now much bigger beneficiaries from the exploitation of our resources than we are.
But what is most disturbing is the fear that any oil company or financial institution that invests in Alberta's tar sands is contributing to the early demise of my people. To date, governments, banks and oil companies continue to deny this.
So we are grateful to our friends from the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Camp for Climate Action, who have joined together to support us. At the camp, we will share our struggle with activists from the UK. We hope that whichever UK residents we reach can assist us by persuading your government, national oil companies and banking institutions to reconsider their investment in Alberta's bloody oil.
Climate Camp home page:
CMAJ - here is the original study!!