By Mychaylo Prystupa
Northwest Alberta grain farmer Alain Labrecque recalls the first winter in 2011 when the fumes from oil tanks near his home in the Peace River area seemed to trigger terrible health effects for himself, his wife and two small children.
“I started getting massive headaches. My eyes twitched. I got dizzy spells. I often felt like I was going to pass out.”
“Next thing I knew, my [3-year-old] girl had trouble walking. She had no balance. She would sit at the table, and she would just fall off her chair.”
“My [4-year-old] son – he was really black under his eyes all the time, and had big time constipation.”
“Then my wife fell down the stairs while carrying a laundry basket.”
“We want through a weird winter like that,” Labrecque told the Vancouver Observer by phone Sunday.
Labrecque, his family, and neighbours are part of a group of rural home owners now giving testimony to an unprecedented Alberta hearing, examining the health effects of the odour and emissions from bitumen extraction. About 75 people packed the conference centre, each day of the first week of proceedings.