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A Small Little Bolt: The Tar Sands Poisoning of An Alberta Family

by Abby Zimet

In the wake of just-completed hearings into tar-sands-related health issues in Alberta's Peace River - these names! - the story of Alain Labrecque, whose grandfather settled there in 1929 and whose extended family, like many others in the area, long viewed oil as a blessing until it turned into a curse. Labrecque was finally forced to flee to British Columbia in 2011, a year after his family began suffering a litany of ills from the fumes of Baytex' 86 bitumen tanks nearby. Before they left, Baytex offered to buy his farm if he agreed to stay silent. He isn't.

“Why is the little girl always falling?” - Alain recalled thinking of his then-two-year-old daughter.

“They produce air quality studies that say, ‘No, everything’s all OK,’ trying to prove that we’re lying to them. They make you feel like you’re the troublemaker - a ‘Why don’t you just shut your mouth’ type of thing.” - Karla Labrecque.





















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