UPDATED Statement on Former Domtar Site
Statement on Provincial Release of Sampling Results and Health Risk Assessment on Former Domtar Site
March 7, 2019
When citizens are deciding where to make their home to build a life and raise their family, they should not have to worry about potential risks to their health and safety showing up years later.
That’s exactly why we have regulations in place that should protect the public from environmental impacts of industrial activity. It’s one of the basic roles of government.
Unfortunately, the previous provincial government failed to ensure transparency and proper enforcement of their own rules.
Now local residents are suffering the consequences.
After repeated efforts to enforce compliance, the current government took action. This included doing their own testing of the site, taking necessary safety precautions, and engaging with the public.
Today’s report is the result of these efforts. The information it contains about the possible exposure to residents of harmful contamination is deeply troubling.
As the City Councillor for this area, I will be working with City Administration and the Province to fight for the best possible outcomes for local residents.
We are still waiting for the results of more testing to understand the full scope of the problem. However, the Province has committed to doing the remediation required if the company that owns the effected property fails do so.
UPDATE- March 14, 2019
The Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks has issued new Ministerial and Environmental Protection Orders that replace the ones made previously on the former Domtar site.
The old Orders were not able to take into consideration the health impact data that was released last week because it wasn’t available at the time. The Minister’s new Orders require that all information, including the new testing and health outcomes, be fully considered in any actions going forward.
Cherokee and Domtar have been given clear direction and timelines for completing further risk mitigation and plans for remediation. This testing and remediation work must also be reviewed and approved by Alberta’s Chief Science officer, who provides independent oversight and reports directly to the public.
In my view, the current provincial government has done the right thing by making transparency the priority and taking people’s health and safety risks seriously. If this swift and concrete action had been taken in previous years, residents wouldn’t have to be dealing with this now.
It’s simply not fair for the people who built their life in this community in good faith that it’s clean and safe only to find out later there are still unresolved issues.
I see this is a failure of communication and oversight that started years ago when proper testing should have been completed and appropriately verified.
This is no fault of the homeowners in the area and they shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences. They deserve to live in a clean, safe environment with peace of mind and that’s what they will finally get when this work is complete. I will advocate for the city to do everything it can to make this process as easy on residents as possible. We need to focus on making it right.
Edmonton City Councillor, Ward 4