Canadian Manufacturing

Scientist links crude oil to fish deformities in Alberta

Mutations seen downstream from oilsands similar to those found after oil spills in Alaska and Florida



OTTAWA—A renowned Canadian scientist says there appear to be similarities between fish deformities found downstream from Alberta’s oilsands and those observed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and Florida’s Deepwater Horizon disaster.

David Schindler of the University of Alberta has written two federal cabinet ministers pointing out the research similarities.

He’s proposing that some chemical or suite of chemicals found in crude oil may be causing the malformations, and he’d like to see Canada take the lead in researching the issue.

In a letter to Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield and Environment Minister Peter Kent, Schindler says the federal Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario would be ideal for studying specific chemical impacts on fish in the wild.

Ottawa announced last year that it was closing the Experimental Lakes Area, a remote region of 58 pristine lakes that have been used since 1969 for groundbreaking freshwater studies.

The closure of the world-famous facility will save the federal government $2 million annually— a move that scientists have called inexplicable, given the scientific value of the lakes area.

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