Deformed Fish in Canada Draw Scientific Inquiry

Folks in Louisiana, who experienced a massive fish kill on Friday possibly due to the BP spill, aren't the only ones with cause to worry about what industry is doing to wildlife in local waters. A coalition of Canadian scientists and native peoples want the government to investigate why deformed fish are suddenly showing in waters downstream from the massive Alberta tar sands.

From this story in the Medicine Hat News:

_The fish are hard to look at. One whitefish has a golfball-sized tumour bulging from its side. Another is simply missing part of its spine, its tail growing from a stumpy rear end. One has no snout. Another is coloured a lurid red instead of a healthy cream. Others are covered with lesions and still others are bent and crooked from deformed vertebrae.

__All were taken from Lake Athabasca, downstream from the oilsands in northern Alberta, and were on display Thursday. All are reasons, say a group of scientists and aboriginals, for the federal government to conduct an independent study on what's happening to the Athabasca River and its watershed after decades of industry expansion.

"A lot of people are afraid to eat fish from the lake," said Robert Grandjambe of Fort Chipewyan, which is also downstream of the oilsands. "It's time we had a proper monitoring study done."

Prominent scientists, two area doctors, five past and present First Nations leaders, a local member of the legislature, the mayor of the Wood Buffalo municipality that includes Fort McMurray, and other area residents all support a letter requesting such a study that was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday. The fish aren't part of any formal scientific survey. But local anglers say the number of such deformed and disturbing catches is growing.

"I never even saw deformed fish in my younger days," said Grandjambe. Also growing are the number of studies that link the oilsands industry and increasing levels of contaminants._

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