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Province publishes environmental testing data

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Province publishes environmental testing data

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Grimsrud updates on the Fort McMurray wildfire on May 30, 2016 // alberta.ca/emergency.cfm

After concerns over a lack of environmental data for the Fort McMurray area were expressed this week by residents and community leaders, the province has published everything they have.

The publication outlines how the government has been monitoring the air, water, and ash in the region, and what results have shown.

For air monitoring, data has been collected from the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association’s monitoring stations, which are located in Timberlea, downtown, Anzac, and Fort McKay. They’ve also employed particulate matter testing at the courthouse, MacDonald Island Park, Fire Hall #1, Keyano’s industrial campus in Gregoire, the forestry warehouse near the old airport, and Fort McMurray First Nation Health Centre.

There is also a mobile air monitoring lab that has been checking various neighbourhoods every day.

So far, these stations haven’t recorded particulate matter or toxins that exceed public safety guidelines.

The province has also been testing ash in damaged areas, with 85 samples taken in total. These samples are what led Chief Medical Officer Karen Grimsrud to recommend that residents in Beacon Hill, Abasand, and Waterways not be allowed back yet. The ash has been found to contain heavy metals, dioxins, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

The information page says that they expect to find the same substances in other damaged areas like Stone Creek, Wood Buffalo, and Saprae Creek. However the concentrations are expected to be far lower given lower levels of destruction compared to the restricted neighbourhoods.

Residents whose homes are facing debris fields in these other neighbourhoods will be contacted and get to do a walkthrough with an official to determine possible health risks.

The province says that monitoring of rivers and streams has found “nothing significant” to-date.

You can read the full report, complete with links to the raw data, here.

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