Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, May 27, 2016

In The Interests of Science, Technology, and Decency

Under the auspices of the National Research Council -- Canada's venerable, highly respected innovator of new technologies and scientific advances in a multitude of spheres -- the National Fire Laboratory under its aegis operated their laboratory in a rural area of Mississippi Mills between two towns, Almonte and Carleton Place. The NRC is an institution which, needless to say, is expected to mount 'best practice' disposal of lethal or carcinogenic chemicals which are used in various types of experiments; any chemicals whatever in fact, should be disposed of appropriately, in a manner certain not to negatively impact the environment.
Researchers conduct a burn test at the National Research Council fire lab in Mississippi Mills. Pat McGrath / Ottawa Citizen
Let alone impact the health and safety of human beings and animals. A spectacular failure of due diligence has recently been reported that implicates this national institution of international repute and Canadian pride in a shameful incident that did indeed have the effect of threatening the health and safety of people and animals living in close proximity to the National Fire Laboratory. Where the method of dealing with waste chemicals appeared to be to flush overflow into the sewage system and from there into the environment.

When we read about the carelessly destructive manner in which Chinese state operations and private businesses dispose of harmful chemicals, in the process destroying the environment and the watershed and placing countless people living close by to health dangers resulting in various types of cancer, and other deadly diseases, we shudder and rest easy in the belief that such dreadful practices happen in China, never to occur anywhere in North America, let alone in Canada, an technologically advanced and scientifically and environmentally sensitive society. To discover how wrong we can be is quite unpleasant.

Which gives further credence to what we might otherwise label as "scare-mongering" from people like David Suzuki who writes things like: "Consider air, water, and food. We need air every minute of our lives to ignite the fuel in our body to give us energy. We suck two to three quarts deep into the warm, moist recesses of our lungs. Our alveoli are smeared with surfactants that reduce surface tension and enable air to stick so oxygen and whatever else is in that breath can enter our bloodstream. Carbon dioxide leaves our body when we exhale. Lungs filter whatever's in the air. Deprived of air for three minutes, we die. Forced to live in polluted air, we sicken."
"We are 60-to-70-percent water by weight. Every cell in our body is inflated by water. Water allows metabolic reactions to occur and enables molecules to move within and between cells and, when we drink it, we also take in whatever's in it, from molecules like DDT and PCBs to viruses, bacteria, and parasites."
"All the cells and structures of our body are molecules assembled from the debris of plants and animals we consume. If we spray or inject food plants and animals with toxic chemicals, and then consume them, we incorporate those chemicals into our very being, sometimes passing them on to our offspring before they're even born."

In 2013, the National Research Council was well aware that their laboratory in Mississippi Mills was contaminating its own groundwater. The 100,000-gallon underground tank on the property holds water used in firefighting experiments containing firefighting foam chemicals. When the tank becomes too full trouble looms. "When at full capacity, (the) tank overflow transports water to a septic system located north of U-96 (the laboratory building), which discharges to a small creek", according to an engineering report commissioned by the NRC itself.

While septic systems are engineered to break down human waste they do nothing to destroy industrial chemicals. Chemicals that were washed into the nearby creek entered the surrounding soil and groundwater on the property of the NRC where the fire lab stood. And although the NRC informed its employees that they were not to drink the water, supplying them with bottled alternatives, it said nothing for years to the people living nearby and nor did it test the soil off its property to determine whether chemical leakage impacted it.

Perfluorinated akylated substances, a class of chemicals used in firefighting and their impact on the environment and on the human population and animals living nearby is the concern. NRC has taken to latterly supplying people living nearby with filtration systems and bottled water; a situation resulting from tests on several dozen wells owned by nearby residents indicated low levels of PFAS. The National Research Council maintains that it is inconclusive whether or not the contamination found in surrounding property had its genesis from the National Fire laboratory, but it is planning a clean-up to take place in the summer.

Leaving nearby homeowners and their families with more questions than the NRC is prepared to answer.

NRC water woes


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet