STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Landowners raise concerns about Edmonton-area upgraders

Posted by mhudema on June 20, 2008

Uncredited image

Anne Brown, who lives in the area northeast of Edmonton known as “upgrader alley,” says many people call the region “cancer alley” because of the number of people who have fallen ill.(CBC)

Uncredited image

Shell Canada’s Scotford refinery, the first of the Edmonton-area upgrader plants, has been in operation since 1983.(CBC)

Section: Edmonton
Broadcast Date: Friday, June 20, 2008
Time: Thu June 19 18:34:02 2008 EDT
Network: CBC

A group of landowners and farmers northeast of Edmonton spoke out Thursday about the growing number of heavy oil processing plants proposed for the area known as “upgrader alley.”

They are worried what the expansion of the upgrader industry will mean to the air and water quality in the area, and how the plants will affect the health of their families. Upgraders transform bitumen found in Alberta’s oilsands into synthetic oil.

“Some are calling the area cancer alley,” said Anne Brown, one of the speakers at a news conference staged Thursday by a group of residents who oppose the projects.

Brown said she knew two farmers in the area who died of lung cancer, even though neither man smoked.

“People realize that the number of people diagnosed with cancer who have lived near the industrial facilities is growing.”

The group called the news conference to draw attention to a provincial hearing into the $14-billion Petro-Canada upgrader that will begin on Monday.

It’s the latest proposal to go forward, and one of five new projects proposed for the area.

One upgrader, Shell’s Canada Scotford refinery, has been in operation since 2003. Two more have already been approved.

The landowners, who will be neighbours to the new plants, argue they should have a say about what gets built near their homes.

“Rural landowners are constantly being bombarded with industrial developments,” potato farmer Wayne Groat said.

“We are expected to live within metres of huge upgraders, noise, lights, emissions, traffic, fear of releases or explosions. There is nothing that is really beneficial to people who live in the areas near these upgraders.”

Similar concerns raised earlier this week

The group is the second in two weeks to raise the alarm about new oilsands processing plants.

Last week, the Pembina Institute published its report “Oilsands Fever” calling for a moratorium on any new upgraders in the area until environmental issues are resolved.

It argues the plants will have a huge impact on the environment, particularly fresh water supplies.

The report says if all the upgraders are built, they will need 10 times the water now consumed by the city every year.

With files from Canadian Press

© 2008 CBC. All Rights Reserved.

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