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Contaminated land parcels update

With Alberta Health Services’ support, the Government of Alberta is leading an investigation to study the elevated rates of three types of cancer in the Homesteader area of northeast Edmonton.

This study involves collecting and analyzing health information not already available to health officials.

Current and former residents will be contacted by the Ministry of Health by mail and email to participate in a voluntary community health survey. Questions will focus on risk factors for breast cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer.

For more information about the survey or this study visit Alberta Health’s website.

March 2019 update

With the support of Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Government of Alberta continues to lead the work being done to investigate any health risks posed by contaminants in the area around the former Domtar wood treatment facility.

Soil assessment on the parcels of land is nearly complete and this testing covered the Verte Homesteader and Overlanders communities, Parcels X and Y, as well as some properties owned by the City of Edmonton and CN Rail. This broad sampling approach provides a better understanding of the situation and the results indicate where there are areas with elevated levels of dioxins and furans. The report for the larger central portion of Parcel Y is not yet finished, but the others are complete and available for review online.

The government has completed a human health risk assessment which shows there are hazards to human health from the soil at the former Domtar site, but there are ways to mitigate the risk arising as a result of this. This means further protective measures will be explored and implemented as needed to limit exposure to the soil once the snow begins to melt.

This initial assessment has identified possible associations between the duration of residency near this site and three types of cancer in residents who had lived in the area for 10 or more years: breast and endometrial cancers in women and lung cancer in men.

We understand that this news will be distressing to many current and former residents in the area. This data on its own does not indicate why there are higher rates for these three types of cancer. Many factors could contribute to an increased risk of cancer.

It is important to note that further investigation and information is required to fully understand the possible factors and that work will start as soon as possible. Residents will be kept updated on the progress of this work.

For more information on cancer prevention, including information on what can be done to prevent cancer, information on screening and support resources visit:

For more information related to this issue, including the sampling reports and an additional fact sheet, visit www.alberta.ca/domtar

July 2018 update

Alberta Health Services, Alberta Health and Alberta Environment and Parks have reviewed preliminary data from testing on two parcels of land in the former Domtar site in northeast Edmonton, and the Alberta Government is taking further regulatory action to protect residents while ongoing sampling continues.

Preliminary sub-surface test results in the south of Verte Homesteader indicate high levels of dioxins and furans in the berm on the area known as Parcel C.

On the unoccupied land where the former wood-processing plant was located (referred to as Parcel Y), government directed the landowner to conduct additional soil testing. The company has now come back with surface test results from two locations near the centre of the parcel that showed very high levels of dioxins and furans.

These levels, more specifically on Parcel Y, represent a potentially significant human health risk to the workers conducting testing on the site. This will mean residents will see workers in the coming days wearing additional personal protective equipment and using decontamination facilities before they leave the site.

We can understand how this information may be distressing for nearby residents, but we want to assure you that the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services are taking appropriate measures that are protective to you.

For more information related to this issue, including an additional fact sheet, visit Alberta Environment and Parks’ website.

June 2018 update

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has reviewed the Surface Soil Quality for Parcel C prepared by Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd. This is the first phase of soil testing conducted in the Verte Homesteader neighbourhood and the undeveloped portions of parcel C including the berm.

This sampling, conducted in April 2018, focused on surface soil to a depth of 30cm. Surface soil test results in the Verte Homesteader community in northeast Edmonton found no health concerns in the surface soil for the homeowner properties in the neighbourhood.

There are four specific areas on parcel C, including the berm, where results show levels of dioxins and furans that exceed human health screening guidelines. There would be no immediate risk to the public from these areas. The affected areas are either already fenced off or will be soon by Alberta Environment and Parks as a precaution, to prevent the public from accessing them.

Exposure to these contaminants in large amounts or over long periods of time could lead to an increase in the risk to human health.

We encourage residents to avoid those four areas. In addition, more in-depth testing of the entire area, including a human health risk assessment, are underway and those results will be shared in the fall.

These results are preliminary and additional testing needs to be done on parcel C.

AHS’ Executive Officer’s Orders

On Friday, March 16, 2018, AHS Environmental Public Health issued four Executive Officer’s Orders related to four separate parcels of land in northeast Edmonton that once housed a wood processing plant from 1924 until 1987.

The Executive Officer’s Orders required the owners to take immediate action to secure the site and restrict access, and put in place any measures such as fencing and signage, to minimize any potential health risks to members of the public in the immediate surrounding areas.

As of April 30, 2018 fencing and signage had been installed around the perimeter of the four parcels of land, restricting access to those sites.

On Tuesday, July 17, 2018, Alberta Health Services issued a letter to Cherokee Canada’s legal counsel directing Cherokee Canada to immediately provide appropriate and effective dust control measures for Parcel Y, among other things related to AHS’ Executive Officer’s Orders issued March 16, 2018.

Measures are enacted to limit the likelihood that residents could be exposed to contaminants from this site. These include the reinforcement of fencing around areas with known contamination and dust control measures are also being implemented to keep potentially contaminated soil from blowing off site.

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