In the community of Fort Chipewyan in the far northern tip of the province of Alberta, cancer rates have become unusually high in recent years. The region is located downriver from the Athabasca oil sands.
Studies have confirmed that some of the highly-toxic waste produced during the oil extraction process has entered the water system and has contaminated fish supplies. For years, the government has brushed aside concerns about the consequences to the environment and human health. But local residents, physicians who work in the community, and environmental researchers say that studies bear out their concerns.