The Department of National Defence says in a news release today that new testing guidelines on water from a contaminated creek in North Bay shows nine properties are currently above the interim guidance level.
BayToday in previous stories has identified the waterway as Lee's Creek, which runs alongside Lee's Road. Some homeowners there have been using bottled water for four years now.
In 2017, testing on Lee's Creek showed the waterway is polluted with Perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) from the 22 Wing airbase located just upstream. The creek empties into Trout Lake just a few hundred yards from the city's drinking water plant.
From the early 1970s to the mid-1990s, DND used extinguishing substances containing Perfluoroalkylated substances at former firefighting training areas at the North Bay Airport. DND says these activities were conducted in accordance with the accepted practices and regulations of the time.
PFAS are manmade substances found in a variety of consumer and industrial products such as adhesives, cosmetics, cleaning products, and specialized chemical applications, such as fire-fighting foams.
They have been found in soil, surface water, groundwater, and fish on and near 22 Wing/CFB North Bay property.
In a news release today, DND says, "Since 2017, we have taken concrete steps to address this issue, including monitoring the drinking water of homes near the base and conducting environmental studies.
"The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MECP) is recommending water test results in North Bay now be assessed using its interim guidance level for PFAS, which is lower than Health Canada’s guidelines. At the MECP’s request, we will now be assessing water test results based on the MECP’s interim guidance, in addition to Health Canada’s guidelines and screening values for PFAS."
The release adds that while residential wells in the sampling program are below Health Canada’s guidelines, nine properties are currently above the MECP’s interim guidance level.
"As a result, we are working with the City of North Bay to provide these homes with bottled water for cooking and drinking. We will also resample water at two other properties to obtain current results to compare to the MECP’s interim guidance. PFAS levels in North Bay’s municipal water supply and all other residential wells in our sampling program are currently below the MECP’s interim guidance level."
DND says it is committed to the health and safety of North Bay residents and managing the effects of past operations responsibly.
"We are working with the City of North Bay, North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, and the MECP on this issue, and will continue to provide regular updates to the community on what we are doing to address it. This includes working with the City of North Bay to develop a long-term solution to meet the MECP’s guidance for PFAS in drinking water."
Information on federal guidelines for PFAS is available on Health Canada’s website.