Contaminants still a concern at New Harbour dump

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By Allan Williams

In 2006, AMEC Consultants sent 18 trout taken from areas around the New Harbour dump for analysis of PCBs, dioxins, furans, etc. All fish were boned and skinned because they assumed no one would eat the skin. Who the hell skins a six-inch trout?

I knew from the beginning that this was wrong. PCBs, along with dioxins, furans and other chemicals, will accumulate in the fatty tissue (lipids) of fish. This has been confirmed by Dillon Consultants in the risk assessment.

They note that the current standard is to include the skin and fat because this is where PCBs would accumulate.

That also seems to have been the standard in 1992 when fish were sent from Makinsons for testing. It is stated that all the edible portion, including the skin, was sent for testing.

It is hard to believe that AMEC would not have known that. There should be no excuses for this. They should be made to retake those samples and this time someone familiar with the area should go with them to verify that the samples would be taken downstream and not south of the dump.

The risk assessment applies to PCBs only. It does not deal with all the other contaminants leaching from the site, e.g. dioxins, furans, which are worse than PCBs.

All 18 samples that were tested had concentrations of dioxins and furans, plus 10 samples had levels that exceeded the Guidelines for Wildlife Consumers of Aquatic Life.

Worrying levels

Canadian guidelines tell us it is safe for humans. The guideline is under review for changes. In the U.S., the guideline is more stringent and anything over that guideline would warrant a no-consumption advisory.

Seven of the 18 samples taken would warrant action in the U.S.

The risk assessment also notes that the Harris and Associates Report of 1996 was not available, so they went by information that was presented in the SGE Acres Report of 2003.

They should access the Harris and Associates Report; it was one of better ones. It just might point out some of the flaws in subsequent reports.

Allan Williams writes from New Harbour.

Geographic location: New Harbour, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Don II
    October 05, 2013 - 09:11

    Who skins a 6 inch trout indeed and how may people who eat trout do not eat some of the skin and fat as well? It appears that the Minister of Environment and the Government of Newfoundland are anxious to obtain "professional" and "expert" reports that they can use to make the New Harbour dump and Makinsons PCB environmental pollution problem go away. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland would like to make Allan Williams go away too. Don't give them that satisfaction. Keep up the good work Mr. Williams.