Cornwall city council can’t brush off the fluoride additive issue any longer.

Council is expected to decide whether to spend $250-$300,000 to upgrade water fluoridation equipment at the city’s water purification plant.

The use of fluoride in municipal water systems has been a hot topic at city hall and other municipal councils for a number of years.

Opponents of fluoride treatment say the chemical could have detrimental health effects. Council heard these concerns as recently as 2012.

Occupational risk experts are wary of adding hydrofluorosilicic acid to the water.

Coun. Glen Grant has been the most focal, suggesting the possibility of serious injury and the benefit of fluoride treatment doesn’t warrant spending about $50,000 per year on purchasing hydrofluorosilicic acid.

But the fluoride addition pump failed in September 2013, requiring the city to remedy safety related procedures before the system is brought online, reported Morris McCormick, manager of environmental services.

“It is very important to understand that the significant risks associated with this system are when the system gets opened up for maintenance activities or in failure situations,” McCormick reported to council.

“In these situations Hydrofluorosilicic Acid is released to the atmosphere with the ensuing health and safety consequences.”

Council is being asked on Sept. 22 to either tell administration to hire an engineering firm to address concerns from a risk assessment report, or discontinue the addition of hydrofluorosilicic acid to the purification plant.

The Eastern Ontario health unit has come out strongly in favour of adding fluoried to municipal water supplies.