The Breaus left their rural bungalow, moving to a small rented home in the nearby community of McLennan. "His eye was twitching so bad that he had a temper tantrum." Breau said.
"The air stank so I called the ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board), and decided I didn't want to live here anymore until I could be told that it was safe."
The Breaus left their rural bungalow, moving to a small rented home in the nearby community of McLennan.
Not the first to leave
Breau's family is not the first to pack up and leave the area. At least six other families have done the same.
Mike Labrecque, 60, moved from his home southeast of Peace River last year as his health was deteriorating.
He dropped 40 pounds and was experiencing allergic-type reactions such as hives and difficulty beathing. He now lives in a cabin along a lake without power or water and has seen a noticable improvement in his health.
When he does venture back to his property, he needs an industrial-strength gas mask in order to breathe comfortably.
"It's very depressing, I know I will never be able to live here again," said Labrecque through a gas mask while standing in what was the kitchen of the house under construction on his abandoned property.
"My body has suffered way too much damage... my body is totally allergic to the air here."
As for the possible cause of the fleeing residents' difficulties, all point to a relatively new process of extracting bitumen from underground in the region called Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand, or CHOPS, where heavy oil is pumped from the ground and stored in heated tanks which produce emissions that form an aerosol-type plume. More