CALGARY -- The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is calling on the federal government to reject a proposed oilsands mine project in northern Alberta due to uncertainty regarding the potential impact on the health of the local community.

In its Feb. 3 letter to the prime minister and the minister of environment and climate change, CAPE expressed disappointment with the government's dismissal of community concerns regarding potential increases in cancer rates, food contamination and pollution. The letter was signed by 175 health experts, including some from Alberta.

At a press conference in Calgary on Wednesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasted the group’s letter.

"Albertans live in the real world, not in some pie in the sky utopian world and in the real world we need to responsibly develop resources and we are doing so while shrinking their environmental impact," said Kenney, who referenced the project's "eight years of exhaustive regularly review by a joint federal/ provincial panel."

"I can tell you one way that we can avoid any potential health impact from any project is to stop building anything in this country, and I know there are some of those folks that would like us to do that," he said.

Additionally, the provincial environment ministry sent CTV Calgary a statement, saying that "We take issue with some of the assertions made in the (federal environmental and climate change) minister's letter, namely the notion that Alberta will be bumping up against the province's emissions targets within the next decade. I'd reiterate that the 100MT cap is a backstop policy to prevent unconstrained emissions growth without technology improvement. Our TIER program will keep us under the cap -- another policy that the federal government has endorsed. We look forward to discussing these items with Minister Wilkinson in the coming days."

CAPE says the conclusions were based on inconclusive health studies of a much smaller scope than the necessary comprehensive assessments into the long term health effects of the project that have not been funded.

The proposed site of the $20.6-billion Teck Resources Frontier project is located approximately 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.