09/10/2013 05:21 EDT | Updated 11/10/2013 05:12 EST

Neil Young calls Fort McMurray oilsands 'a wasteland'

Canadian rocker Neil Young had some harsh words for the oilsands in Fort McMurray, Alta., during an event in Washington, D.C.

"Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland," said Young, 67, during a National Farmers Union conference.

"The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying. The fuels all over — the fumes everywhere — you can smell it when you get to town," he said.

"People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this. Their food supply is wasted, their treaties are no good. They have the right to live on the land, like they always did, but there’s no land left that they can live on. All the animals are dying."

Young is a noted environmental activist in addition to his long and storied music career. He talked on Monday about his Lincvolt project, a hybrid-engine modification of a 1959 Lincoln. In 1985 he founded Farm Aid, a benefit concert series to raise money for family farmers in the U.S.

The Keystone XL pipeline is being promoted in Washington by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a means to get bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to refineries on the Gulf Coast. U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to approve the project, which faces opposition from environmentalists and communities along the pipeline route.