A recent study that suggestsoilsands development maybe related to extremely high arsenic levels in moose meatis being questioned by Imperial Oil and Alberta Health.
The Suncor Energy study into the impact of its new development estimated the risk of arsenic in moose meat will be 453 times higher than acceptable, resulting in increased cancer risks.
It studied 20 moose meat samples and assumed people in the Wood Buffalo area of northern Alberta would eat moose meat every day.
Imperial Oil spokesperson Kim Fox questions the Suncor results, sayingits own study puts the estimate 15 times lower.
"The people who actually conduct these studies tend to be very, very conservative in their methodologies," Fox said.
"Even with those conservative approaches, what we've found is that the oilsands do not contribute to increases in arsenic in the area."
Numbers not reliable, says government
Alberta Healthdoes not believe the Suncor results are reliable and is doing its own study, spokesperson Howard May told CBC News Wednesday.
"Our experts in our department were surprised to see those numbers," May said.
"We had never seen those numbers before. So that's why we want to look into the science behind it and satisfy ourselves and the people in the community."
The Health Department is asking Fort Chipewyan residents to collect moose meat and cattails for testing.
The community of 1,200 has been pushing the government to look into the possible connection between their health problems, includingunusually highnumbers of rare cancers,and the industrial development in the region.
Community should have been notified
Fort Chipewyandoctor John O'Connorsays thecommunity should havebeen told directly about the results, regardless of their accuracy.
They learned of them through a newspaper story Friday, even though the Suncor numbers were presented to a public hearing in July.
"For myself, I'd be very concerned, hearing this second hand," O'Connor said.
"I'd want to know very quickly if I had to worry about fish, rabbit, the berries I'd picked that are in my freezer â¦ the water I'm drinking."