Stirling Community Press – August 25, 2000

Water warning to come next yearby Louise Livingstone

Centre Hastings – Residents around Moira Lake and upriver toward Deloro will get a letter next spring with their tax bill reminding them not to drink water from the river or Moira Lake without treating it to remove arsenic. They were sent a similar letter in November 1999. Levels of arsenic in Moira Lake and the river north to Deloro exceed the Ontario Drinking Water Standards at certain times of the year. The worst period for arsenic is at the end of August and in September.

Wayne Herrick, the Ontario Ministry of Environment (MoE) project officer for the Moira River Impact Study, spoke to a meeting at Ivanhoe on Thursday, August 10. The meeting was chaired by Centre Hastings Reeve Tom Deline. Bryon Keene, the new engineer with Quinte Conservation; Walt Chisholm, from the Stoco Lake Property Owners Association; John MacDonald and Elsie Schulz from Moira Lake Property Owners Association; Councillor Dave Schulz from Centre Hastings; Stirling-Rawdon Mayor Marian Bastedo; Tweed Reeve Doug Mumford; Glen Hudgins from the Hastings Prince Edward Health Unit; and Heather Hawthorne, MoE, were there.

John Macdonald, chair of the Moira Lake Property Owners asked, “Shouldn’t it be more than property owners who are warned [about not drinking the water]?”

Moira Lake Steward Elsie Schulz suggested putting notices at the beaches and at Crystal Park camp ground.

“How far should one go,” asked Glen Hudgins from the health unit.

“We did not think arsenic was a problem with campers who were only in the area for a short time,” said Wayne Herrick. “The problem is more when people take in arsenic on a continuous basis over a lifetime of consumption.”

“We are expecting to get the [the Moira River Study] report this month,” interjected Reeve Tom Deline.

Herrick said the study itself is done. “There are two reports. The first is a detailed technical report which has been drafted and re-drafted three times. It went out to eight peer reviewers from all over North American including toxicologists, radioactive matter specialists and fresh water biologists. We are pleased with the results and there is praise for the study as it is very comprehensive. The peer reviewers made good suggestions for improving the study. The consultants are working to incorporate the suggestions not all of which can be incorporated. We may have to do more work on certain aspects.”

(The Moira River Impact Study to which Wayne Herrick was referring is not the long-awaited final closure plans for the Deloro Mine site. It is not clear when these will be available for the public.)

Herrick went on to remind people, there were three objectives of the Moira River study: 1. to find out how contaminants, collecting over the last 100 years, are affecting the environment. 2. to answer people’s concerns about how these contaminants affect human health. (This was done by doing a preliminary health risk assessment to determine if there is a need to do further survey work.) and 3. To predict how the river system will react to the cleanup at the Deloro site.

The consultants are working to finalize the technical report and produce a summary report which is not in technical jargon.

“What we know is it is a very good study which will answer the three questions very well. It may not answer all the questions 100 per cent, but we will have a much better understanding than a year ago,” said Herrick.

“There is not much in the way of surprises. The study confirms what a lot of us know already. There is a lot of good news but it also paints a realistic picture of what is out there.”

Herrick explained, “What we are now doing is developing recommendations. We hope to do this as part of the rehabilitation, as some things were not known a year ago.”

He was very hopeful the report will be available in the next couple of weeks.

The Moira Property Owners Association has its annual meeting on Saturday, August 26, at 9 a.m. at the Kiwanis Centre, Madoc. Various members of the Moira River team including MoE Eastern Region director Brian Ward, Wayne Herrick, Bryon Keene, Quinte Conservation, and representatives from the consultants Golders and Global TOX will be at the meeting in Madoc on August 26.

“One of the recommendations coming from the report is a reminder letter to be sent to residents in Zones A and B. [Zone A is from Deloro to Moira Lake and B is the two basins of the lake to the out flow.] A reminder letter is appropriate on a regular basis until the Deloro Mine cleanup objective of meeting drinking water standard is met,” said Herrick.

Elsie Schulz asked about the arsenic which is already in the river system. (It is not clear how meeting drinking water standards at Highway

#7 will affect levels in Moira Lake as there is arsenic in the sediments in both the river and the lake.)

“The recommendations will address more than the Deloro site,” said Herrick. “The arsenic will gradually flush through.”

“Won’t this cause problems for Stoco Lake and the Bay of Quinte?” someone asked.

Mayor of Stirling-Rawdon Marian Bastedo asked about Brownson Rapids to the west of Moira Lake, “There must be a lot of arsenic in this area.

There needs to be a continued reminder to cottages owners as cottages change hands.

According to Herrick, the meeting with the medical officer of health, Dr. Noseworthy, came out with the recommendation of letters on a routine basis.

John MacDonald asked Glen Hudgins of the health unit whether many people had phoned Dr. Noseworthy.

“Maybe after the report is out,” responded Hudgins

How often should the letter go out and how do we get to the right people was the next question.

Reeve Deline said, a letter could go out with the tax bills. Walt Chisholm from Stoco Lake, asked what was wrong with the way it was done the last time when the MoE sent a letter to each of the four townships to send out.

“We are not going to get all of them,” said Chisholm.

Deline said he did not mind it going out with the tax bill.

Tweed Reeve Doug Mumford thought the tax bill wasn’t appropriate as it was too early and was a negative demand.

“Once we see the studies we can call the property owners,” said Tom Deline “This municipality will jump on the class action suit. We will put the MoE on notice we want a commitment to clean up. We will send a letter to the minister, the health unit and the conservation authority. It is a number of years since I used to take dead fish off the beaches in the fifties.”

Wayne Herrick assured him MoE is 100 per cent committed to following up on these recommendations. (It is not clear if MoE has any sort of financial commitment for the cleanup of Moira River and Moira Lake at this stage.)

Herrick said, “I am disappointed not to see work on Deloro. The court case has been the issue. There is commitment from the ministry and it is going to happen.”

According to Herrick, although the Deloro Village Environmental Health Risk Study had very little public consultation as it had to be got out to residents, the director (Brian Ward) is committed to the appropriate public consultation for the Moira River Impact Study. People will have access to the summary and to the technical report in municipal offices and in the libraries. “We have to work out how this is going to work,” said Herrick.

“If the report is out in draft this summer, will it be next summer when it is finished?” put in Reeve Deline.

Wayne Herrick said, “It will be out in the next couple of weeks and there will be a three- to four-week public consultation period. The final redraft will be out in early fall. The report is going to be finalized this year. I don’t think there will be significant changes in the scientific content after the peer review.”

“If this report is finished will the tailings [and other waste areas at the Deloro site] be covered?” asked Elsie Schulz.

Herrick said, some of the recommendations (of the Moira River Study) were to do with the Deloro site and some with the river system, and some could be done right away.

John Macdonald pointed out the MoE is facing another court case (actually MoE is facing two more cases; the case around radioactive waste and the Deloro case action suit.)

“Two years ago there was just Jim Ritter working on Deloro,” responded Herrick. Now there is a team. Barry Burns was involved with the health study and now with site preparation. Heather Hawthorne and Barbara Theman, (on the public liaison side) and Wayne Herrick on the Moira River study.

“Who can put it into forward gear?” asked John MacDonald. “Jim is certainly tied up in courts.”

Councillor Dave Schulz pointed out “no one person is indispensable.”

“It seems to be Jim Ritter is kingpin but it also seems that Jim is continually tied up. Government is using this as an excuse,” said MacDonald.

“It is certainly slowing things down,” said Herrick.

Reeve Deline asked, when the rehabilitation would start at the Deloro site. “When are we going to get the final report from CH Gore and Storrie?”

“If someone showed up with a shovel ” said Macdonald. “We are getting tired of waiting. Let’s forget the bull shit and let’s get something done.”

“There are a number of recommendations of what MoE thinks needs to be done and the recommendations will be prioritized.”

Mayor Bastedo asked about livestock in the Bronson Rapids area

“That’s a good question,” said Herrick who couldn’t get into the specifics of the study. “We were as conservative as we could possibly be. If someone drinks the water they won’t get sick tomorrow. We err on the side of caution. We have come a long way from when they were pumping arsenic into the river and cattle were getting sick” [in the Bronson rapids area.]

“It might take five years until MoE is meeting the standards every day.”

Tom Deline retorted, “If it is that serious the MoE and health unit should be sending out the letter themselves.”

“There is a lot of good news, the river system is improving and property values are not going to go down. It is the kind of report people are going to be glad to pick up and read,” said Herrick.

“Will the draft reports be ready by August 26?” asked the Moira Lake Property Owners.

“If there is a big turnout are you going to wear your hard hats?”asked MacDonald

“I am dying to tell the story,” said Herrick

Elsie Schulz asked about recommendations relating to monitoring heavy metals, “I would like to know who, and when, and what is being done and what the results are. MoE has the facilities to test for metals which we don’t.”

Tom Deline told the group about the minor lake study the municipality has commissioned. There is a public meeting the day after, on Sunday, August 27. He described the algal blooms and weeds as something else this year.

Reeve Doug Mumford said, “Cutting weeds [in a lake] is like cutting a field full of weeds with a hay binder. They are back the next week.”

Herrick assured Doug Mumford and Walt Chisholm, arsenic is not a concern for drinking water in Stoco Lake. Zone C from Moira Lake outflow to the outflow of Stoco Lake is no different to anywhere else in Ontario but there are other issues in this zone.

Doug Mumford suggested MoE put out a press release advising people not to drink the water in Zones A and B

Herrick said he did not see MoE making a general statement in the press.

The last letter went out in November 1999. Herrick asked, “Is there a need to do anything further this year?”

“We haven’t seen the report; it is up to you to tell us,” said Mayor Bastedo.