Possible benzene in drinking water; not the city’s problem

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City councilor Ross Romano asked that someone from Algoma Public Health attend the next council meeting to address concerns of benzene in the drinking water in the Point de Chenes area tonight at city council, to which the mayor and staff said “It’s not our problem.”

The reason for the response was that it was not city water.

Romano was asked to attend or ask his questions to Algoma Public Health directly and not to council or city staff.

Here’s the previous article on the issue from December 12th:

City councilor Ross Romano was alarmed tonight at city council over letters that Point de Chenes residents received concerning possible benzene in their water from contamination from the airport.

The city council agenda stated:

Residents in the area (postal code) were notified by mail in 2008 of the nature of the contaminants concern at the Campground and Airport. There was a private residential survey done by APH of every other household upon which results were then hand-delivered to the households in question. No benzene was found.

In 2016, MOE, Transport Canada and APH re-sampled the same households in the residential areas (three roads-Nokomis, Point de Chenes and Des Chenes Crescent) to ensure nothing has changed in terms of benzene presence. A letter was sent to the households with a factsheet on benzene and description of past efforts and link to 2008 study on APH website.

The origin is chemicals are coming from the airport itself. It has been suggested that the firefighting exercises have contributed to the issue but Transport Canada and MOE (the regulatory authority for the site) are investigating.

The Campground has been under a Drinking water advisory (Do Not Drink) with all taps posted since 2008. The PUC and City of SSM have installed a filtration treatment system which is undergoing its final testing and is anticipated to be up and running in 2017, upon which APH will consider lifting advisory.

Weekly testing of the Campground is ongoing and has shown the presence of benzene, however the Campground is on a Drinking Water Advisory.