Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Health officials in Alberta confirmed Friday that there are more cases of cancer than expected in a small aboriginal village downstream from the massive oil sands plants, but they said there was no cause for residents to be alarmed.

People in the village of Fort Chipewyan, a one-time trading post on the northeast shore of Lake Athabasca, say oil sands developments may be responsible for rare bile-duct cancers first spotted by a doctor in the community in 2006.

Those complaints sparked a study by Alberta health authorities, which released the results Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

The study said that while the incidence of the rare cancer cholangiocarcinoma was higher than expected, only two of the six cases reported by the community's doctor were confirmed, while three were other types of cancer, and one was not cancer at all.

However, the study found 47 individuals in the community had 51 different cancers over the 1995 to 2006 study period, more than the 39 cases health officials had expected to find.

"The overall findings show no cause for alarm," said Tony Fields, a vice-president at Alberta Health Services. "But they do, however, point to the need for some more investigation."

The village is about 260 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, where a number of projects have been established to mine the oil sands, as part of the process that converts tar-like bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

Lake Athabasca is fed by the Athabasca River, which flows through the project region, and earlier studies have found unsafe levels of arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon in the lake's fish, sediments, water and wildlife.

While oil sands producers use large amounts of water to produce the crude, contaminated wastes are kept on site and are not released.

The results of the study did not assuage community officials, who say they have not been provided with a copy of the results.

Story continues below advertisement

"We haven't seen it," said Steve Courtoreille, a councillor with the Mikisew Cree First Nation and chairman of the Nunee Health Board Society. "We've asked for it so our doctors can critique but they caught us off guard. It's not going to show the real picture … there is a problem here."

Alberta Health Services said the study's findings were reviewed by independent experts and two Canadian aboriginal researchers.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies