Halalt FN Impacts from Pulp Mill

BOA Ltd. worked with the Halalt First Nation to identify marine and air contaminants from the nearby Crofton pulp and paper mill. Our detailed literature review identified the persistence of dioxins in nearby Dungeness crab populations and the ongoing need for a Human Health Impact Assessment to be carried out on communities adjacent to the mill.

This work was carried out under contract to Halalt Project Director, Jack Smith, and in cooperation with Kristin Thomas, who carried out an impact survey of Halalt community members.

Marine Food Contamination

We carried out a literature review of all significant marine studies associated with the mill, including the Environmental Effects Monitoring required under the Fisheries Act which were carried out by Hatfield Consultants. We concluded that:

  1. There was no doubt that the mill had, over time, seriously contaminated the water column, the sediments and the marine life throughout the Chemainus estuary and Stuart Channel, both of which form a vital part of the Halalt Traditional territory.
  2. The regulatory response to marine effluent contamination from coastal pulp mills has been significant, to the point where all dioxin restrictions for shrimp, prawn and oyster harvesting have now been lifted.
  3. The remaining dioxin closures prohibit crab consumption beyond 40g/week, due to the persistence of dioxins in crab tissue.
  4. There is no defined timeline for when current dioxin contamination of bottom sediments and crab hepatopancreas will be eliminated.
  5. Oysters near the marine effluent outfall demonstrate lower survival levels, and are significantly smaller and lighter than reference oysters from non-contaminated areas.
  6. The Crofton Mill began operations in 1957. Fish closures were not put in place until the late 1980's. This leaves a span of over 30 years during which local residents were consuming potentially contaminated fish foods (e.g. beach foods including bivalves and crabs).

Atmospheric Contaminants

We reviewed recent studies, including peer reviews, of the estimated 106 contaminants discharged by the mill to the atmosphere, 70 of which are considered to be of greater concern. Most of these contaminants are not measured continuously and dioxin discharge is reported only annually, under terms of the provincial discharge permit. Local community pressure led to the mill retaining consultants to carry out a Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA), the primary goal of which was to evaluate the inhalation by resident humans of contaminants emitted by the mill's operations. This study was followed by two peer reviewed studies, one funded by the mill, and the other funded by the local community groups.

Since very few of the contaminants were directly measured, either at the point of release at the mill site, or at the point of human receptors, much of the work in carrying out a HHRA depends on modelling the list of contaminants, their rate of emission, their pathways through the atmosphere to human receptors, and their concentrations at the point of reception. After reviewing all studies, we concluded that:

  1. Based on the intial studies carried out by the mill, BOA Ltd. could not make predictions on the contaminant concentrations at Halalt IR2.
  2. The peer reviews clearly indicated that the inventory of contaminants, and their rate of emission must be redone for the Crofton Mill. This also meant that the atmospheric models needed to be redone. The HHRA also, therefore, needs to be redone.
  3. BOA ltd. recommended that a repeated Human Health Risk Assessment include ambient monitoring at Halalt IR2 and that sensitive receptor populations include the Halalt First Nation community.

Contact Brian Olding & Associates Ltd.

E-mail: brian@brianolding.com

Telephone:   604.531.7132

Mobile:         604.790.1948

Thank you for your visit. If you have an issue or concern that you would like to discuss with Brian Olding, please email or call me directly. We are experienced in working with Chiefs, Elders, Staff, Cabinet Ministers, Corporate Officers and Professional Colleagues from all aspects of Environmental Science.

Brian Olding M Env Des 2

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