AER looking into allegations Baytex is making people sick

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) began a hearing on January 21 to determine if Calgary-based oil company Baytex is responsible for health complaints from a group of Peace Country farmers. The landowners sharing space with Baytex’s Reno Field operations allege they began suffering headaches dizziness rashes and breathing problems in 2011 when Baytex took over operations in Reno Field and began using a production method that involves heating crude oil in on-site storage tanks and releasing waste fumes into the atmosphere through vents in the tops of the tanks.

One complainant Mike Labrecque sent Fast Forward Weekly a record of a visit to his doctor in which his doctor surmised he was suffering “environmental toxicity” and “advised him to go through environmental lawyers.”

“You can imagine how shocked we were to hear the words ‘you need a lawyer not a doctor’” says Labrecque.

Baytex has long maintained its operations follow all AER regulations and that the method it uses to heat crude oil prior to transport is used in many operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It has also said it is legally unable to install many of the gas recovery systems the families and their lawyers are pushing for because the AER prohibits such new actions while the hearing is in progress.

Transportation strategy

The Alberta Government is preparing to create a provincial transportation “vision” for the next 50 years and it wants your help. According to the Transportation Ministry the as-of-yet undeveloped strategy aims to “build a world-class transportation network that is safe sustainable and innovative.”

Those wishing to provide input can learn about the plan and submit their two cents at starting January 28. A draft strategy is expected in April which the public will also be invited to comment on.