APTN National News
OTTAWA-The Alberta government is putting the Lubicon Cree in danger by refusing to believe the community is suffering from serious ailments caused by the spill of 28,000 barrels of crude oil on their territory, said Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo.
A crude oil pipeline ruptured near Little Buffalo First Nation in northern Alberta, spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil a few kilometres from the community. Local residents, including children, say they are experiencing nausea, disorientation, headaches, burning eyes and stomach pains as a result of the spill.
“It is totally inappropriate and, in fact, dangerous if officials at the (Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board) are refusing to deal with the fact that people in Little Buffalo are becoming sick from the effects of this disaster,” said Atleo, in a statement. “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.”
Atleo is also calling for an independent investigation into the pipeline leak, which has left the community, which sits in Alberta’s Peace River region, fearing for their health.
“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,” said Atleo. “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.”
Officials with the Alberta government Plains Midstream Canada, the pipeline’s owners, have dismissed health concerns, saying the spill should not be making people sick.