Local MP Scott Reid wants answers from National Research Council on groundwater in Mississippi MillsMay 12, 2016
UPDATED — Mr. Reid has received the response from the ministry on Q-85.
March 22, 2016
Today, local MP Scott Reid submitted a written question in Parliament to the National Research Council (NRC) seeking answers on groundwater testing on and around the NRC’s National Fire Laboratory (NFL) facility on Concession Road 8 in Mississippi Mills.
The National Research Council, through its responsible minister, must respond to these questions within 45 calendar days. Mr. Reid will post the responses he receives online.
Written question, as submitted:
March 22, 2016
Mr. Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston) –
With regard to the Natural Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) National Fire Laboratory (NFL), located at Concession Road 8, Mississippi Mills, Ontario:
(a) on what date were Perfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS) first used at the NRC NFL facility;
(b) since 1981, how many instances, broken down by year, and in what capacity have PFAS been used at the NRC NFL facility;
(c) since 1981, how many assessments and tests, conducted or paid for by the federal government, have occurred which resulted in the discovery of PFAS in the groundwater at the NRC NFL facility, and on what date (i) did each assessment and test begin, (ii) were the results of these tests known by the NRC, (iii) were the results of these assessments and tests made public;
(d) what events and policies led to the assessments and tests referred to in (c);
(e) since 1981, how many assessments and tests, conducted or paid for by the federal government, have occurred which resulted in the discovery of PFAS in the groundwater of properties adjacent to or nearby the NRC NFL facility, and on what date (i) did each assessment and test begin, (ii) were the results of these tests known by the NRC, (iii) were the results of these assessments made public;
(f) what events and policies led to the assessments and tests referred to in (e);
(g) under what circumstances would the discovery of PFAS in the groundwater at the NRC NFL facility initiate assessments or tests for PFAS in the groundwater of adjacent or nearby properties, and (i) what policy regulates this procedure;
(h) under what circumstances would the discovery of PFAS in the groundwater at the NRC NFL facility not initiate assessments or tests for PFAS in the groundwater of adjacent or nearby properties, and (i) what policy regulates this procedure;
(i) in each instance of the discovery of PFAS in groundwater at the NRC NFL facility and subsequent testing for PFAS in groundwater of properties adjacent to and nearby the NRC NFL facility (i) how much time elapsed between the date of receipt of test results from the NFL property and initiation of testing of adjacent and nearby properties, (ii) does any policy regulate the amount of time that may elapse between the testing of the NFL property and adjacent and nearby properties and, if so, what are the details of this policy, (iii) for each instance in which the time elapsed exceeded that specified in the policy in (i) (ii), what was the reason for the delay;
(j) what policies, procedures, regulations, and other measures does the NRC have in place to ensure that chemicals from the NFL facility do not enter the groundwater in surrounding properties;
(k) does the NRC have policies and procedures for compensation to owners of private property that is negatively affected by activities a NRC facilities;
(l) what policies, procedures, and regulations determine what is a safe, and unsafe, amount of PFAS in drinking water;
(m) what policies, procedures, and regulations determine what is a safe, and unsafe, duration of time to consume PFAS in drinking water before negative health effects may develop?
Mr. Reid requests that the Ministry respond to this question within forty-five (45) days.
Below are materials provided to Mr. Reid’s office by the National Research Council related to PFAS.
Response to Question from Mr. Scott Reid, M.P. (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston)
Information on Groundwater Assessment Program NRC National Fire Laboratory, Mississippi Mills, Ontario
1. Background – NRC’s National Fire Lab (NFL)
Mississippi Mills NFL site developed between 1978 – 1981; addition made in 2006. Established to:
- test the behaviour of fire and smoke in building exteriors, stairwells, elevators, and tunnels to keep people safe in their homes, at work and during their daily commute.
- test new building materials and technologies; this research is then applied in the National Building and Fire Codes.
- improve fire detection; help train firefighters in responding to emergencies; improve evacuation methods and fire safety of modern transportation methods (rail or subway cars).
As part of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, NRC undertook preliminary assessments of the environmental quality of all its properties.
In-depth work began at the Mississippi Mills NFL site in 2012-13. Focus of the assessment was to better understand groundwater quality at this facility.
Assessments of the groundwater flow and facility drinking water in late 2013 detected Perfluoroalkylated Substances on this property.
3. What are PFAS?
Perfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals used in commercial and consumer products, and industrial applications (adhesives, cosmetics, cleaning products, and firefighting foams).
- Widely used and persistent in the environment; detected at low concentrations. Used as water, stain and oil repellant coatings for fabrics and paper.
- Sought expert advice on PFAS to understand site conditions and water flow.
- Expanded testing to drill sites on boundaries of NRC property. Worked with residents offering well testing and reimbursement of bottled water.
4. Steps Taken
NRC sought expert advice from Health Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Royal Military College, Queen’s University, and Stantec Inc., to assess and understand site conditions.
Steps taken were:
- Expanded drilling to NRC property line in October 2015 to better understand groundwater flow;
- Water of residents close to drilling sites affected by activities – NRC offers to sample water and provide bottled water as a precautionary measure;
- December 2015, a letter and information package were sent or hand-delivered to the 49 properties adjacent to the site; NRC establishes a dedicated phone line and email address to respond to inquiries;
- January – February 2016, residential well-sampling to residents who consented to sampling; and
- February 2016, results of sampling to be sent to residents and NRC to hold individual information sessions to help residents interpret results.
5. Results of Sampling
- 40 of 49 homes agreed to sampling of their water.
- The remaining 9 homes did not respond, or are empty lots (NRC continues to reach out to these residences).
- 21 homes had no detection, 17 homes tested below Health Canada screening values, 1 home tested slightly above Health Canada’s screening values (for 1 contaminant), 1 home is schedule to be tested in April.
- Testing results are subject to privacy regulations and cannot be shared without residents’ written consent.
- In-person meetings scheduled with residents to discuss results (February 2016).
6. Go Forward Plan
Near term mitigation plan: evaluate long term water treatment options, according to Health Canada, to remove PFAs from drinking water (forthcoming).
Long-term remediation plan in development: on-going, regular testing of residential wells and continued groundwater assessment and remediation on NRC property.
7. Meeting with Residents
Individual meetings with residents starting on Tuesday, February 23rd to Thursday, February 25th:
- 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Old Almonte Townhall, 14 Bridge St., Almonte (5km from residences).
- Interpretation/explanation of results; background on PFAs; review contact information; request residents sign consent form; next steps; questions.
- Alternate arrangements for residents not able to attend during these dates/times.
Posted in: News