bears and more • Klaus Pommerenke
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2. Januar 2014
Neue Studie: Ölindustrie Albertas gefährdet die Gesundheit der Anwohner
Wie gefährlich es zwischenzeitlich ist, im Ölsande-Abbaugebiet und im „Industrial Heartland“ Albertas zu leben, zeigt eine Studie der University of California, Irvine und der University of Michigan, die letzten Oktober veröffentlicht wurde. In einer Presseerklärung der University of California, Irvine heißt es:
„Levels of contaminants higher than in some of the world’s most polluted cities have been found downwind of Canada’s largest oil, gas and tar sands processing zone, in a rural area where men suffer elevated rates of cancers linked to such chemicals.
The findings by UC Irvine and University of Michigan scientists, published online this week, reveal high levels of the carcinogens 1,3-butadiene and benzene and other airborne pollutants. The researchers also obtained health records spanning more than a decade that showed the number of men with leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was greater in communities closest to the pollution plumes than in neighboring counties. The work is a dramatic illustration of a new World Health Organization report that outdoor air pollution is a leading cause of cancer.
While the scientists stopped short of saying that the pollutants they documented were definitely causing the male cancers, they strongly recommended that the industrial emissions be decreased to protect both workers and nearby residents.
‚Our study was designed to test what kinds of concentrations could be encountered on the ground during a random visit downwind of various facilities. We’re seeing elevated levels of carcinogens and other gases in the same area where we’re seeing excess cancers known to be caused by these chemicals‘, said UC Irvine chemist Isobel Simpson, lead author of the paper in Atmospheric Environment. ‚Our main point is that it would be good to proactively lower these emissions of known carcinogens. You can study it and study it, but at some point you just have to say, ‚Let’s reduce it.‘‘
Co-author Stuart Batterman, a University of Michigan professor of environmental health sciences, agreed: ‚These levels, found over a broad area, are clearly associated with industrial emissions. They also are evidence of major regulatory gaps in monitoring and controlling such emissions and in public health surveillance.‘
The researchers captured emissions in the rural Fort Saskatchewan area downwind of major refineries, chemical manufacturers and tar sands processors owned by BP, Dow, Shell and other companies in the so-called ‚Industrial Heartland‘ of Alberta. They took one-minute samples at random times in 2008, 2010 and 2012. All showed similar results. Amounts of some dangerous volatile organic compounds were 6,000 times higher than normal.
The team compared the Alberta plumes to heavily polluted megacities. To their surprise, the scientists saw that levels of some chemicals were higher than in Mexico City during the 1990s or in the still polluted Houston-Galveston area.“ (UCI-led study documents heavy air pollution in Canadian area with cancer spikes. Carcinogens detected in emissions downwind of ‚Industrial Heartland‘. Irvine, Calif., Oct. 22, 2013).
Auf der Website der 580 km²-großen Industriezone heißt es: „Alberta’s Industrial Heartland has grown into Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region … The region is home to 40+ companies in a variety of sectors, including producing and processing oil, gas, and petrochemicals, as well as advanced manufacturing.“ Das Gebiet nördlich von Edmonton umfasst Fort Saskatchewan, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County, Lamont County sowie das Industriegebiet Edmontons. Die am schlimmsten von der Umweltverschmutzung betroffenen Familien, die in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft zu den Industrieanlagen leben und häufiger als der Durchschnitt von Krebserkrankungen betroffen sind, erhalten die Gelegenheit, vom Voluntary Residential Property Purchase Program Geld zu erhalten, wenn sie ihre Grundstücke verkaufen wollen, um endlich wegziehen zu können. In ihrem Artikel mit dem Titel „Buyout packages allegedly silence Albertans struck with industry-related cancer“ im Vancouver Observer am 5. November 2013 schrieb Krystle Alarcon: „Mike Hudema, an environmental activist with Greenpeace, said the program silences many of the residents diagnosed with cancer, effectively keeping the issue away from the public eye.“ „A lot of people left the area because there had been people who had been diagnosed with cancer, and basically took out buyout packages and signed a none-disclosure deal where they can’t talk about it“, sagte Hudema.
Nicht nur im Industrial Heartland Albertas werden erhöhte Krebsraten dokumentiert, auch bei der Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Fort Chipewyan, 160 km entfernt, fallen seit langem erhöhte Krebsraten auf. Über den Athabasca River gelangen die giftigen Rückstände der Ölsande-Gewinnung in den Lake Athabasca und über die teilweise von Geschwüren deformierten Fische zu den First Nations. Bei ihrer traditionellen Lebensart spielt der Fischfang eine wichtige Rolle. Eriel Deranger von der Chipewyan First Nation wähle bereits drastische Worte, um auf die Bedrohung ihres Stammes durch die Ölsande-Industrie hinzuweisen: „It’s a genocide. It’s happening slowly, but we are dying off. We’re still drinking the water, and we’re eating the fish, but it’s getting poisoned … I’m still eating the fish, because I don’t want the tar sands to change who I am. But I still get these moments of panic after, because I don’t know what toxins are in the fish and going into my body – nobody knows.“
Von der Provinzregierung von Alberta haben die Betroffenen keine Unterstützung zu erwarten. Der neugeschaffenen Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), einer Behörde, die zu 100 % von der Industrie finanziert wird, wurde die Zuständigkeit für die Überwachung und Einhaltung des Water Act, des Public Land Act und des Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act übertragen. Vorsitzender der AER ist Gerry Protti, der Begründer der einflussreichen Lobbygruppe der Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Erst im Herbst haben 75 Fish and Wildlife Officers, Forestry Officers, Ranger und Biologen das Umweltdepartement von Alberta verlassen, um beim AER wesentlich besser bezahlte Posten anzutreten. Wie über die Einhaltung der Gesetze durch die Industrie gewacht werden wird, kann von einer zu 100 % von just derselben Industrie finanzierten Behörde bereits jetzt gemutmaßt werden. „Fox watching the hen house? Environmental regulators rush to new industry jobs. Dozens of Environmental Officers who watched over oil industry activities in Alberta are starting to leave their government posts for more lucrative jobs within the energy industry“, schrieb Jenny Uechi am 23.12.2013 im Vancouver Observer.
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