War on the Peace River – River Roundup

With the Federal Government’s approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline a couple weeks back, media outlets were flooded with information and opinions on the subject. As Enbridge attempts to satisfy the conditions of that approval, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about Northern Gateway in the news. Here at OneRiverNews.ca, Michael put together a River Roundup of pipeline news as it appeared on the web.

The other day when I was surfing the web, I was reminded of a series of articles that detail some disturbing effects of industrial oil and gas extraction along the shores of the Peace River. Lately, when the Peace River is in the news, it is often in relation to the Site C dam that BC Hydro intends to build.

These stories below have nothing to do with Site C, but should raise concerns among those living in the Peace River area, and certainly for those living downstream as well: They have to do with reportedly “toxic air quality” that have forced a number of families living near Peace River, Alberta, to abandon their homes.

I was reminded of a series of articles that detail some disturbing effects of industrial oil and gas extraction along the shores of the Peace River.

I first caught wind of these stories in February, when the first piece, “Albertans are Abandoning Their Homes due to Toxic Air,” ran on Vice Canada’s website. Having grown up in BC’s South Peace region, this news was disturbing. In short, the piece details how

[Peace River] Residents blame bitumen emissions for their seizures and shakes, eye twitches, muscle pain and spasms, numbness, crippling headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, short and long-term memory loss, slurred speech, slowed thought, loss of hearing, shallow breathing, blackouts, swelling, sinus irritation, metallic taste, no sense of smell, nosebleeds, blood in urine, rectal bleeding, chronic heart burn, insomnia, inability to stay awake, intoxication, sedation, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, weeping, weight loss, sweating profusely, hot and cold flashes, and bruising. The exact long-term impacts of exposure are unknown, though detected compounds like benzene and toluene may lead to MS, dementia, Parkinson’s, or cancer.

Writer Michael Toledano has been providing Vice with some great coverage of northern Alberta / oil sands related topics. As I’ve done some writing for Vice myself, I was pleased to see the site covering such important issues; issues that, being based in Winnipeg, I only really hear about from the news, or talking with community members over the phone, email, or Skype.

So I figured I’d put together a little River Roundup here of some of his Northern Alberta coverage for Vice.

Whatever happens in Peace River certainly flows downstream, to the Peace Athabasca Delta, and beyond.


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About Sheldon

Sheldon Birnie grew up in Dawson Creek, BC, and received a bachelor of environmental studies from the University of Manitoba in 2011. He lives in Winnipeg, MB, where he is a freelance writer, and the editor of the Manitoba Eco-Journal.
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