Peace River, Alberta: Thieves stole computer, files but left cash, reports farmer Carmen Langer (who spoke out for years about Baytex’s toxic emissions)

Thieves stole computer, files but left cash, Peace River activist says by Sheila Pratt, August 7, 2014, Edmonton Journal
Longtime Peace River farmer Carmen Langer has spent years battling oil companies to try to clean up emissions that forced many families to move away.

Langer was devastated last weekend when thieves broke into his house and stole his computer and memory sticks containing files and correspondence with oil companies, the provincial energy regulator and local MLAs spanning more than a decade.

“I was pretty shaken. This is serious, but no one wants to take it seriously,” the outspoken Langer said in a telephone interview.

His video camera also disappeared, along with special diaries in which he chronicled dealings with oil companies, said Langer.

Nothing else was taken from the house; the thieves even passed up cash, he added.

The Peace River area, in the midst of an oil boom, has been the centre of a controversy over powerful, smelly emissions arising from heated, aboveground bitumen storage tanks operated by Baytex, Husky and a few other companies.

Langer spoke at a public hearing by the Alberta Energy Regulator last winter on the subject of emissions that forced nearby residents to leave their homes after suffering headaches, nausea, cognitive problems and other health effects.

After the hearing, the AER gave oil companies until Aug. 15 to install pollution control equipment on their bitumen tanks to prevent emissions.

They are also required to stop the practice of flaring or burning off excess natural gas that comes up with the bitumen in the unusual production method called CHOPS — cold heavy oil production with sand.

Langer said he was working in his fields Saturday afternoon when thieves came into the house and took the computer and documents off his work table.

Langer’s extended family has farmed in the region for more than 60 years. But after this incident, he said he’s uneasy staying home and wonders if someone is trying to get him to leave his farm.

Over the years, he has made repeated calls to the AER local office when smelly emissions — known local as “gassing” — forced him out of his house.

Langer also had to get rid of his cattle recently after they also became sick.

“I have to figure out what I’m going to do. It takes a lot to shake me up,” said Langer. “The problem is the provincial government doesn’t think you are important to them.”

Peace River RCMP are investigating the theft.

Carmen Langer’s uncle, Otto Langer, spent 30 years in the federal environment department and still owns land in the same area, near Three Creeks south of Peace River.

“Being an activist is an uncomfortable position,” said Otto, who is visiting Edmonton.

He said his nephew is “courageous,” taking on a fight that many others would not.

Otto Langer, who left Environment Canada in 2000 and for a few years joined the David Suzuki Foundation, said he also receives threatening phone calls for his activism. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

July 2014: AER, Alberta’s new energy regulator seeks the world’s trust, as Alberta’s caprock is frac’d “to Hell”

June 2014: Diana Daunheimer: Alberta Energy Regulator should be ashamed, AER Directive 60 Deregulation as the frac poisons ramp up

June 2014: “No Duty of Care” legally immune even for Charter violations Alberta Energy Regulator “sweeps” tarsands operations for two weeks. And when the sweep is done, then what?

May 9, 2014: Alberta’s Energy Regulator (AER) continues to deregulate, more 100% industry funded deregulation to come

May 6, 2014: British medical journal, The Lancet, writes story on plight of Peace River-area families dealing with bitumen pollution

April 2014: Lawyer asks court to shut Baytex bitumen plant releasing harmful pollution that forced Alberta families to vacate their homes years ago

April 2014: AER shows its true colours: caves to polluting tarsands company, allows Baytex to continue harmful emissions 4 more months!

Toxic pollution, odors caused by Baytex heavy oil operations in the Peace River area need to be eliminated says AER; Two-tiered AER? What about the AER saying nothing about Encana fracturing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers? What about the AER violating Ernst’s Charter Rights, while covering up Encana’s unlawfulness?

February 2014: Big Oil, Bad Air: Where has the College been all these years? Why not SUPPORT ALL ALBERTA DOCTORS treating citizens and workers poisoned by oil and gas? Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons tells Peace River doctors it will support them in face of intimidation

February 2014: Alberta workplace fatalities close to record numbers in 2013, led by a near doubling of fatalities caused by occupational disease

February 2014: New Study: Emissions may be two to three times higher, some pose cancer risk; Environmental health risks of Alberta tarsands probably underestimated

January 2014: Karla Labrecque’s doctor refused to do a blood test until he consults with a local politician; Mike Labrecque gets sick working for Baytex, Baytex lets him go: “You’re done.” ]

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