Canadian government declines interviews on oilsands health impacts

Participants in a June 2014 "healing walk" around oilsands facilities stop near a pond filled with toxic tailings waste.

Participants in a June 2014 “healing walk” around oilsands facilities, close to Fort McMurray, Alberta, stop near a pond filled with toxic tailings waste.

Who are Health Canada’s experts assessing human health impacts of oilsands development? And why has the federal government never done a comprehensive study of health impacts in the region after more than half a century of industrial development?

These are among the questions I asked Health Canada in early July as part of my research for this oilsands story published this week.

The questions were largely related to the department’s apparent dismissal of new research led by Stéphane McLachlan, a professor of environmental science at the University of Manitoba, that found evidence of toxins from industry that are putting human health at risk near the oilsands.

I also asked for an interview with one of these Health Canada experts. It took more than two weeks of emails back and forth to get some written responses to questions from the departments.

The interview request was declined.

There was a similar response from Environment Canada to questions about a leaked email from a manager telling air pollution experts in the department that there was no work for them to do in the oilsands region.

Here is my story from earlier this week, and you can find a sampling of some of the emails exchanged with Health Canada at this link or below.

 

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