STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Posts Tagged ‘doctor o’conner’

Scenes From the Tar Wars

Posted by mhudema on May 6, 2008

As Canada scrambles to dig up some of the world’s dirtiest oil, a bush doctor tracks mysterious diseases, poisoned rivers, and shattered lives.” />

Josh Harkinson” />
May 01″ /> , 2008″ />
At a small airport in the northern Alberta town of Fort McMurray, a rickety, single-engine Cessna hurtles off the ground with a roar. Dr. John O’Connor ignores the shuddering fuselage, the tail wiggle, the steep climb above the spruce trees at the end of the runway. For O’Connor, a bush doctor who has tended to some of Canada’s most remote Native American communities for more than a decade, this October morning is the start of a routine commute. In his fleece vest and green fedora, the small, middle-aged Irishman looks simultaneously rugged and elfin. A plastic tray of fruit salad vibrates beneath his seat, a gift for locals who are used to subsisting on moose, pickerel, and muskrat.

Outside, a carpet of boreal forest unfurls at the southern edge of town. Our plane flies past suburban subdivisions, freshly paved culs-de-sac, and what O’Connor says is the largest trailer park in North America. As we head north, tracking the steep banks of the Athabasca River, the forest returns. And then the trees quickly vanish, along with everything else, into miles and miles of rolling hills of sand. “The sand blows around like you wouldn’t believe,” O’Connor shouts over the propeller buzz. “Drive from Fort McMurray, and you will encounter what looks like a sandstorm.”

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