Letter: Update on Environmental Testing Near 3 CDSB Edmonton

submitted by Public Affairs Officer, 3rd Canadian Division Support Group
Department of National Defence / Government of Canada

During routine environmental monitoring work, poly- and perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) were found in soil, groundwater, and surface water at 3 Canadian Division Support Base (3 CDSB) Edmonton, as well as in nearby wetlands. PFAS are manufactured chemicals used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foams.

As a precaution, the Department of National Defence tested the well water of nearby landowners in spring and summer 2020; no PFAS was detected. To ensure water remains safe, we will work with property owners to sample more wells over the coming months.

We will also continue to monitor nearby creeks and waterways leaving the base over time. While recent environmental tests found PFAS in a stream north of the base, they are at levels below federal guidelines for environmental protection. As such, we will expand our sampling area to better understand the presence and sources of PFAS in the area.

As a good neighbour, we are committed to managing the effects of our operational legacy responsibly, and doing our part to safeguard the health of Canadians. We are working with the Province of Alberta, and all test results are being shared with Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and property owners. All tests will continue to be carried out by an independent environmental consultant, and results analyzed at accredited laboratories. We will continue to keep the community informed about our ongoing studies and our work to address this issue. To protect the privacy of residents, water test results will continue to remain confidential.

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Residents with questions about our testing program can contact the 3 CDSB public affairs office at 780-973-4011, ext. 8018. Questions about water quality can be directed to Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health at 780-342-1380. Anyone with general health questions can contact Health Link 24/7 by calling 811.

The presence of PFAS on 3 CDSB Edmonton property is thought to be related to the past use of firefighting foams for training. These activities were conducted according to the accepted practices and regulations of the time. While water is now used for training, firefighting foams containing PFAS are still used for emergencies as they are currently the safest and most effective way to extinguish fuel fires. If used, we try to contain the foams and minimize their impact on the environment as much as possible.

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