News transcript April 12/2001

Environment ministry releases study   by CKWS-TV

It’s been called one of the province’s most polluted sites. …and many say it still is. But a new study released by the Ontario environment ministry suggests the abandoned “Deloro mine” is not harming the Moira River or the environment.

Newswatch’s Tom Steepe reports.

It’s often referred to as Ontario’s most contaminated land.

Deloro, a tight-knit village of about 200 people – 45 kilometres north of belleville. It’s a former gold mining town. … and toxic waste disposal site.

Residents have been concerned about pollution for years.environmentalists have taken the province to court over pollution charges. And townspeople have filed a 50-million dollar civil lawsuit. In the midst of those legal battles, a comprehensive study investigating what impact the Deloro mine has made on the Moira River, has been released with some eye opening conclusions.

Barbara Theman: “Despite historical contamination from the Deloro mine site, there is no negative affect on fish or aquatic life and little to no health concern for people living anywhere south of the Deloro mine site along the Moira River.”

The study also concludes that water quality has improved over the past 35 years since the mine was closed. … and that the Moira River is slowly improving.

Barbara Theman: “With newer, cleaner sediments coming down river for example covering the old historic contamination the combination is meaning that the setiment is improving, water quality is improving and that means it’s safer to eat fish, it’s safer to swim and all those things.”

Janet Fletcher: “All is not is not as well as they’d like you to believe.”

Environmentalist Janet Fletcher says the study doesn’t paint an accurate picture of what’s been happening to the people who call Deloro their home.

Janet Fletcher: “They decide to do a health risk assessment which only looks at the potential for future health problems. You have to look at the history not just the future of the people that have lived in this village and worked at the mine years ago.”

Theman says the province has spent over 16 million dollars on cleanup – reducing the amount of contamination into the Moira River by 80 per cent – since taking over the site in 1979.

Tom Steepe: “But despite all the studies and documentation, environmentalists like Janet Fletcher say they’re still not convinced that everything that could be done to protect the health of residents in and around Deloro, is being done.”

Janet Fletcher: “First you stop the source then you look at the cleanup and they don’t seem to be doing either of those things.”

Tom Steepe, CKWS Newswatch, Kingston.

A decision on pollution charges against the province will be handed down in Ottawa on June 12.