Cancers, other diseases rising near Alberta oil sands

Illnesses including leukemia and lymphomas are cropping up at greater than expected rates in a First Nations community near oil sands in Canada’s Alberta province. Elders at Fort Chipewyan say incidence of disease started rising when the oil industry started extracting and processing hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day near their community of about 1,200 people. Area medical examiner John O’Connor says he’d like to figure out what’s going on before more oil developments are approved; he’s diagnosing unusually high numbers of immune-system diseases, and has also treated five community members for a fatal cancer that typically occurs in one out of 100,000 people. O’Connor is negotiating with federal health officials to start an epidemiological investigation ASAP. Alberta’s oil sands are estimated to hold between 1.7 trillion and 2.5 trillion barrels of oil — second only to reserves in Saudi Arabia — and production is set to quadruple in the next 25 years.