Alberta Oil Spill Causes Ecological and Public Health Disaster For Lubicon Cree Community

I am still on vacation with my family, with only intermittent access to my email and the internet while I am away.  This media release from the Assembly of First Nations, the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada, was in my inbox this evening, and I felt it was important to share it in a timely way.  On April 29, 2011, a leak was discovered in the Rainbow pipeline in northern Alberta. Since then, it appears the provincial and federal governments have been slow to respond to this environmental and public health crisis.

Here is the statement from the AFN:

Little Buffalo First Nation in northern Alberta is in the midst of an ecological disaster and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today stated that the federal government, the Alberta provincial government, the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and Plains Midstream Canada must take responsibility and immediate action to support the residents of the First Nation.  There are reports of more than 28,000 barrels of oil spilled at a site 30 kilometers from the Lubicon Cree community.

“We have been monitoring this situation closely for the last seven days and I am seriously concerned by the lack of response for the people of Little Buffalo First Nation,” National Chief Atleo stated.  “It is totally inappropriate and, in fact, dangerous if officials at the ERCB are refusing to deal with the fact that people in Little Buffalo are becoming sick from the effects of this disaster. The local school has already been closed.  All parties need to work with the leadership and citizens of the community to take action now.”

On April 29, 2011, it was estimated that 28,000 barrels of oil was spilled near Little Buffalo First Nation, located in the Peace River Region of Alberta. Many residents, including children, are experiencing symptoms of nausea, disorientation, headaches, burning eyes and stomach pains. Neither the pipeline owner – Plains Midstream Canada – or the provincial government has met with the people of Little Buffalo First Nation.

The National Chief said:  “We need immediate action and we are also calling for an independent investigation into this incident, with the goal of establishing urgent measures and regulation of oil spill incidents. We have a responsibility to protect Mother Earth and the traditional hunting and trapping territories of First Nations. We have made safer and healthier communities one of our priorities for the new federal government.  This is a clear demonstration as to why we need plans in place to deal with future disasters.”

AFN Alberta Regional Chief George Stanley and an independent environment officer were in Little Buffalo First Nation yesterday for a fly-over of the area.


More links:

Probe Demanded After Worst Alberta Oil Spill in 4 Decades

Slide show of Alberta Oil Spill

Residents, Including Children, Sick After Large Oil Spill In the Peace Region

Regulator Discloses Massive Leak In Alberta Oil Pipeline

Major Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Spills Adds Doubt To Controversial Keystone XL Proposal

4 thoughts on “Alberta Oil Spill Causes Ecological and Public Health Disaster For Lubicon Cree Community”

  1. Hi Christine:

    Having waded my way through dozens of pieces of information on this looming disaster, about all I can say is that I still feel woefully uninformed.

    To date, the government response appears to be one of denial and inaction.

    I suggest that perhaps Stephen Harper and his oil pals vacation at the site of the spill for the duration of the cleanup – which, at this point, appears as though it could take months.

    What seems more likely, is that a full and effective cleanup will actually never be completed.

    I do note that Elizabeth May has called for a proper inquiry into this mess, something I don’t think she is going to let go of until something has been done.

    I predict that the Harper regime will be going into full denial mode immediately, and doubtless Harper will need a whole team of spin doctors to tell us just what a wonderful job the oil thugs are doing.

    Please note that the parent company of the pipeline operator is American. How much do you suppose they care about our environment? And how much MORE do they care about keeping the oil flowing?

  2. The First Nations people truly are the “canary in the coal mines” on the issue of the tar sands, and are the ones suffering the first and the most from our society’s slavish addiction to oil. It will be interesting to see what Ms. May can do to shine some light on this situation. As you say, Keith, the expectation that Harper et al will actually deal with this issue is pretty low. And so the suffering will continue.

  3. I don’t understand the lack of coverage on this! There was a small blip on Canada AM but that is about all I saw. This should be posted everywhere!!! It is just wrong! Other oil disasters are posted everywhere by why not this one? Is the government trying to keep it under wraps? Makes me mad!


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