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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Doctors fear repercussions

Some doctors refused to treat emission-area residents: report


Public hearings set to start into Peace River area emissions

EDMONTON - Some Peace River area doctors are afraid to speak out about health impacts of oil and gas activity and in some cases have declined to treat area residents who wondered if their health problems were related to emissions, says one of two independent health experts hired by the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Doctors fear negative consequences to their careers if they speak out, and in one case, one lab refused to process a test, says Dr. Margaret Sears, an Ontario expert in toxicology and health who will appear this week at a special hearing into complaints about emissions from the Baytex oilsands operation 32 kilometres south of Peace River.

In a rare move, the energy regulator called a special ten-day public hearing, starting in Peace River Tuesday, to examine whether emissions from wells or from bitumen heated in storage tanks could be causing health problems, including dizziness, headaches, cognitive impairment and sleeping problems among residents who left their homes.

To prepare for the hearing, AER hired eight independent expert to provide advice on various issues, including possible health impacts, the chemistry of local bitumen, impact on livestock, and to track various vapour sources on the plant sites.

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