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View Diary: Shouldn't We Know Whether Tar Sands Causing Cancer With First Nations Before XL Pipeline Decision? (59 comments)

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  •  I diaried this back in 2009 (11+ / 0-)
    Why did U.S. just OK new pipeline to import Tar Sands Oil?  

    This being the Oil Industry, naturally the pollution the tar sands operation created hasn't been confined to the huge holding ponds of toxic waste water. Tar sands pollution has migrated into the streams and rivers flowing downstream to a couple of very large lakes. One of them is Lake Athabasca, it's larger than the State of Delaware. On the shores of the lake is Fort Chipewyan, a town of 1,200. Thanks to tar sands pollution Fort Chipewyan is now experiencing an astronomical rate of cancers.  

    Why is Cancer Sweeping Tiny Fort Chipewyan?

    A generation ago, Lake Athabasca was clear and clean enough that Fort Chipewyanresidents drew their drinking water straight from it, and thought nothing about dipping a cup over the side of a canoe during hunting trips. Those days are long gone, as industrial development -- particularly the explosive growth of the oil sands -- accelerates along the Athabasca River, the main tributary of Lake Athabasca.

    A few months after arriving in 2001, Dr. O'Connor noticed a set of disturbing symptoms in a patient: yellowed eyes, fatigue and abdominal discomfort. It was disturbing not only because it pointed to cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and deadly cancer of the bile duct. The symptoms were all too familiar for Dr. O'Connor, whose father died of the cancer 13 years ago in Ireland.

    "I know a lot about it, but I never expected to see it again," he said. "Without treatment, you're dead in about a month. My dad lasted six weeks." Dr. O'Connor said at least three residents of Fort Chipewyan, and likely another two, have died of the disease within the past five years. Statistically speaking, there should be only one case for every 100,000 people, and none at all for a community the size of Fort Chipewyan, he said.

    There are similar patterns with other serious diseases. Since 2001, he has diagnosed five cases of leukemia and four cases of lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. In the past year, Dr. O'Connor has treatedat least six patients with Graves' disease, an immune-system ailment, and has seen entire families stricken with lupus, another serious autoimmune disease. So far this year, six people have died of colon cancer, the youngest just 33 years old, the doctor said.

    He visits a number of northern communities in his weekly rounds, and no other has been hit by the kind of cancer cluster seen in Fort Chipewyan. Those other communities do not draw their drinking water from the Athabasca River or the lake, however.

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 02:01:00 PM PDT

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