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Liberal Opposition Criticize Alberta Inaction on Fort Chip Health

Liberal Opposition Criticize Alberta Inaction on Fort Chip Health
By LEA STORRY, SRJ Editor 17.DEC.07

Alberta Health and Wellness is not saying anything new in terms of a controversial report to come out of Fort Chipewyan. But the Alberta Liberal caucus thinks the Conservatives need to take a look at what they’re doing to the province.

“The government is not doing due diligence in Fort Chipewyan,” stated Laurie Blakeman, MLA Edmonton-Centre and Liberal shadow minister for health and wellness. “The government tests the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong people.”

Dr. Kevin Timoney of Treeline Ecological Research recently conducted a study for Nunee Health. Timoney concluded arsenic, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contaminants were higher than normal for safe consumption. Blakeman said if she was in Alberta health and wellness minister Dave Hancock’s position, she would do another study.

“The health issues aren’t going away. It’s important we stay vigilant in that area and a couple of other areas.”

The shadow minister said Turner Valley, Alberta is also facing various environmental and illness concerns. She said the Liberals won’t let these issues fade.

Howard May, spokesperson for Alberta health and wellness, said the department has seen the Timoney study.

“We looked at the report and reviewed it. We don’t agree with some of the stuff, but that’s nothing new.”

May explained the title of the document: A study of water and sediment quality as related to public health issues, Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, is misleading. This is because it draws parallels to health problems in the community.

“We still have not been able to confirm Dr. O’Connor’s five cases of cholangiocarcinoma.”

Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare cancer which the community’s physician, O’Connor, has diagnosed higher than normal cases in Fort Chip. The doctor has also been vocal about his findings and has since faced an investigation by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The Alberta health and wellness spokesperson asserted it’s up to O’Connor to pass the files to the cancer board. May said this has not been done. As for more research, May added it’s up to Fort Chipewyan.

“We have a standing offer to the community to discuss any further studies they want to pursue.”


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