‘Clear evidence’ of dioxin contamination in the lake

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

An Alberta environmental group says it found evidence that harmful chemicals have been seeping into Lesser Slave Lake for years. The data is from lake sediment samples, taken in 2018 and 2020.

“Preliminary data indicates there have been CDDs (chlorinated dibenzo-p dioxins) seeping into Lesser Slave Lake for decades,” says the Oct. 26 news release from Keepers of the Athabasca. “These exceed sediment guidelines in place to protect aquatic species in Faust (Giroux) Bay.”

What the tests didn’t find much of was contamination traceable to the Swan Hills Hazardous Waste Treatment Centre. An explosion and fire at that facility in 2009 led to the release of chemicals; it has long been suspected by some people in the area that they found their way into the lake.

The Oct. 26 release says the sediment samples show “hints” of PCBs that may be from the plant explosion. But more testing needs to be done, and in different locations.

However, the evidence against the former Faust Osmose site is compelling, and for anyone living in the vicinity, troubling.

“Local residents have been concerned about the Osmose site for decades,” the release continues. “One resident who lives directly south of this site has spent the last 10 years asking the Alberta Government to remediate the situation, and now prefers that they purchase her a new house instead. Living next door, one family says they are ‘not only deeply concerned about the safety of my family with these trucks going back and forth, but I don’t know what to do about it, as I feel completely defeated that no one cares about our well-being.’”

The Keepers release says, “A local organic producer points out that traces of the pollutants have been found in both Faust’s raw and treated drinking water; suspicions around this prevented him from building greenhouses. The community in Faust is divided between those with concerns, and those without.”

Keepers ends its news release by calling for more research.
“Local First Nations use this lake for their traditional livelihood activities, and many other people eat fish from Lesser Slave Lake. We recommend immediately testing fish in Lesser Slave Lake to help determine any impacts or health risks to humans.”

Chemicals in the soil around old Osmose site in Faust. A recent study also found the same chemicals in Lesser Slave Lake.

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