Advisory of the Day
VARIOUS TOWNS, ON: URANIUM IN WATER ONGOING CONCERN FOR PRIVATE WELL USERS IN NORTHWEST ONTARIO
This story is brought to you in part by Hitchinge Dock Couplers
Three trailer parks in Northwestern Ontario are still under long term drinking water advisories due to high levels of uranium found in their water supply.
According to documents acquired from Northwestern Health Unit under the Freedom of Information Act; Robincourt Trailer Park, Chomitsa Trailer Park and Willowdale Trailer Park have all been under advisories since spring of 2005.
In the meantime, the owners of the trailer parks have been responsible for providing the tenants with bottled water to drink.
The acceptable standard for uranium in drinking water is 20 micrograms per litre of water, whereas some private wells were testing at around 90-100 micrograms per litre.
We managed to track down the owner of the Robincourt Trailer Park water distribution system, Norman Robinson. Robinson said, "It isn't just the trailer park that is the affected by uranium, it is the entire area."
He added that the park has been complying with all provincial requirements by, "Notifying all tenants every year, and giving them bottled water."
It would appear as though that the Ministry of Environment is monitoring the water at Robin Court. Robinson said that the Ministry, "Checks the situation on a regular basis."
We contacted the offices of the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, Sarah Campbell. We were informed that for better or worse, "The groundwater in [that] part of Ontario is rich in minerals." The unfortunate drawback for those living in the area and not on municipal systems is that they must live with high levels of undesirables in their well water."
The MPP's offices wrote that residents of the region "Need to make adjustments to their water for drinking. The course of action that has been followed at Robin Court, Willowdale, and Chomitsa trailer parks will be the plan for the foreseeable future."
We were informed that parks in the area have been providing bottled water to tenants for some time and that the MPP's office, "Haven't had any complaints from the tenants of these parks since that practice began."
Thomas Nabb is the acting Manager of Environmental Health for Northwestern Health Unit. He said that the uranium found in drinking water is quite common for well users around the Dryden area but is not present municipal water systems.
"It's naturally occurring uranium that can occur anywhere in the Canadian Shield," Nabb said.
Nabb noted that drinking water with uranium might not have any short term acute effects, but said," Drinking it over a lifetime living in a house, you could develop chronic conditions."
Experts say that drinking water with elevated levels of uranium can affect the kidneys over time, however bathing and showering with water that contains uranium is not a health concern.
For small private trailer parks with between 40 and 100 tenants, the expense for cleaning drinking water of uranium can be high.
The two most common methods for doing so are reverse osmosis and ion exchange.
Reverse osmosis works by forcing water filtering through a membrane that prevents the uranium from passing through, while Ion exchange involves passing water through a system that replaces uranium with a safer compound.
"We do have (the drinking advisory for) one of the trailer parks rescinded but the others are working with the Ministry of Environment to get through this," Nabb said, "I foresee that all these should be off soon but it's just a process."
More info on this story is coming in the following days.
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