A Hamilton city councillor wants more information about how soybeans potentially used for food ended up being grown on contaminated airport property.
Brenda Johnson has asked for a “paper trail” that shows a farmer who grew soybeans on land contaminated with PFOS at the Hamilton airport understood the risks.
She’s asking for information on where the soybeans went and evidence that shows the farmer knew about the contamination on lands leased from the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.
“I think they are reasonable questions and we should be able to come up with those answers,” said Johnson, a Glanbrook councillor who represents ward 11. “If we can’t come up with those answers, we shouldn’t be leasing it out.”
Local environmentalist and biologist Joe Minor first brought the issue of the soybeans to the attention of authorities.
The airport lands are contaminated with PFOS from when the federal government used the land as a firefighting training facility. Minor documented soybeans being grown in a ditch there, which he said is the most contaminated part of the property.
Minor has received assurances from the Ministry of Environment that the worst area will not be farmed next year. But he’s upset that it got this far.
“Where we are now, I’m happy with, but I don’t understand why it took two years to get here,” he said. “Shouldn’t we have a policy that if we know a place has toxic contamination that we not grow food in it?”
The land is just one of several pieces of property the airport leases to other parties, Frank Scremin, CEO and president of the airport, told CBC Hamilton earlier this month. He doesn’t know exactly where the soybeans went.
“We do know they’re sold to a general commodity purchaser at the port so they would be combined with products from a number of farms from a number of communities,” he said.
But Johnson would still like more answers.
“I’ve requested staff for this. I need a paper trail,” she said.
“This is not just an airport issue. It’s a ward 11 issue.”