Dr. John O’Connor, the Alberta physician who raised concerns about health problems in Fort Chipewyan, will speak to a a U.S. Senate committee in Washington on Wednesday.


Dr. John O'Connor has faced criticism for speaking out about the health effects of oilsands development on people who live in downstream communities like Fort Chipewyan. (CBC )

O’Connor was invited to brief members of the committee on environment and public works by Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the committee.

For years, O’Connor has called for independent studies on how oilsands development affects health of  people in downstream communities.

He plans to bring that message to the senators and hopes that he can draw attention to the issue.

“My experience over the last few years unfortunately has been that there’s no response from anyone until something happens from outside of the country,” O'Connor said.

“There is a pressing need for health studies which has been recognized many, many times by authorities that know. Yet we’ve received nothing. The provincial and federal governments have been a total disgrace, nationally and internationally, in that regard.”

O’Connor has no plans to advocate against the oilsands.

“I”m a family physician. I’m only concerned about the health of my patients downstream,” he said.

“It’s my responsibility to advocate for my patients and I will never walk away from that, until I die.”