On this Earth Day I am urging you to take a moment and help us fight for the protection of people living downstream of the Tar Sands. The health and well-being of these downstream communities, including Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan, has been sacrificed at the altar of economic-growth-at-all-costs.
A recent study reported that as much as 11 million litres of contaminated water leaks from Tar Sands operations every day! Another study, released in January 2013 by scientists at Queen's University and Environment Canada, documented dangerous chemicals from 50 years of Tar Sands production showing up in shocking amounts in lakes as far as 60 kilometers away from Tar Sands mining operations!
We also recently saw 350,000 litres of contaminated waste water enter the Athabasca River via a giant Suncor Tar Sands operation. The extent of the damage (or even what was in the waste water) has not yet been determined -- nor likely ever will be. During the uproar over this latest toxic catastrophe, we learned a similar leak took place in 2010, unbeknownst to the public and residents living downstream!
Freshwater expert Dr. David Schindler has repeatedly warned of the damage pollution is causing and he has the deformed fish to prove it. In 2006 Dr. John O'Connor, a doctor working in Fort Chipewyan, raised questions in the media about rare diseases he was seeing in his patients (lupus, leukemia, biliary tract cancer and soft tissue carcinomas). Instead of getting the comprehensive health study he asked for, Dr. O'Connor was unfairly smeared and eventually lost his job. No follow-up study was ever conducted.
Don't people living beside one of the biggest and most toxic mining operations on earth deserve to know if they're being made sick? Don't we owe it to them to use the best available science to understand how air and water pollution is affecting the health of their families? Will you work with me to pressure Health Canada to finally conduct a truly comprehensive health study?
Enter Orwell …
Meanwhile, the federal government is wasting a million dollars studying the health effects of people living near windmills in rural Ontario (studied for decades in Europe, by the way, with absolutely no evidence of harm). Even the conservative-minded Globe and Mail published an editorial ridiculing the political wind 'study'. In fact, the latest research emerging shows that complaints from people living around windmills has been shown to be a "psychological effect of the anti-wind lobby making people worry."
Take action today!
So what can you do? You can make a difference right now by doing 2 things:
1. SIGN OUR PETITION and help the people of Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan get a proper health study. We'll keep you updated on the progress of the petition.
2. MAKE A DONATION to our Health and Environment Advocacy Fund. We'll use this money to urge Health Canada to finally do the right thing, and to draw international attention (including the Obama administration) to the ongoing tragedy taking place Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan.
We are living in Orwellian times and it's shocking and disgusting how low our government will stoop in the name of petro-politics. If Health Canada can find a million dollars to study windmills, surely it can find the resources to study the impact of 50 years of Tar Sands pollution, too.
Please take action today! I promise I'll put your donation to good use and we will keep you informed of the progress of our petition.
Thank you for your ongoing support and consideration.
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
412-1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7