Fluoride Action Network

Hamilton, Ontario: Another PFOS polluted site at airport?

Source: theSpec.com | September 1st, 2012 | By Matthew Van Dongen
Location: Canada, Ontario
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals


The province is reviewing the history of another potentially polluted firefighting training area at Hamilton’s airport.

Airport operator Tradeport is already testing for historic perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) contamination at an old firefighting training site near the southwest corner of the city-owned facility.

A report on the extent of the pollution, which has been found in turtles and fish downstream of the Mount Hope airport, is due at council in November.

The site was built in 1985 and used by Transport Canada to train firefighters in the use of PFOS-laced suppressant foam.

But new federal information suggests the now-banned foam could also have been used at an older training area, at the south end of the airport close to Airport Road.

Spokesperson Jennifer Hall said in an email that the provincial Ministry of the Environment is “reviewing new information about other possible areas where training occurred and will be following up with Transport Canada and Tradeport.”

Tradeport president Frank Scremin said Friday testing is focused on “the known area of contamination,” but added if the MOE requires additional testing, “we will continue to work co-operatively with them.”

The new information came through a petition from local biologist Joe Minor to the Office of the Auditor General, requesting data and aid from a variety of federal departments.

In a response dated July 30, Transport Canada said the older training area was used from 1965 until 1984. Transport Canada policy documents indicate the type of foam that once contained PFOS could have been used for training between 1981 and 1984.

Although the old training site dates back to 1965, firefighting foam was not widely used before 1980, according Barry Spear, a retired Transport Canada trainer who worked at Hamilton’s airport.

Stan Mikolajczyk said he’d like to see soil testing expanded over a larger area.

“I think everyone here would feel better about further study,” said the Mount Hope resident, who asked at a June public meeting whether the historic pollution could be more widespread.

Mikolajczyk, who still eats fish from the Binbrook reservoir despite government consumption warnings linked to PFOS, said he’d like reassurances pollution is not still leaching into nearby creeks. He also wants “someone to step up and take responsibility for this mess.”

The city and federal government are sparring over who should pay for the planned airport remediation, which could cost up to $3 million.

The new petition response from Transport Canada says the agency is “reviewing” Hamilton’s situation to determine if it will participate in the cleanup.

But a Transport Canada spokesperson said Wednesday the review is limited to the possibility of helping with a downstream pollution study, not the airport remediation.