Five Island Lake

PCBS and Five Island Lake
Five Island Lake Community Liaison Committee
Newsletter #l, July 1996

Our Goal
We are writing to you as members of the Five Island Lake Community Liaison Committee (CLC). We first met in December,1994 after the government invited the community to participate in finding solutions for the PCB contamination problem in the Five Island Lake area. This problem occurred when PCBs were released from a local salvage operation into the North Bay area of Five Island lake (see map page 3).

Our mandate is to
(1) help the community and the government exchange information and discuss concerns, and
(2) work with government to develop a remediation plan.

This remediation plan has to be environmentally sound, technically viable and acceptable to the community

Fact or Fiction?
What are the Real Restrictions on Recreation in the Area?
Recent media coverage has left some residents wondering if it is dangerous to swim, boat or fish in local lakes and whether hunting, fishing or swimming have been banned.

The CLC is concerned that this confusion may be causing residents unnecessary stress and inconvenience, and that a false impression may be created about the community of Five Island Lake. For the record, the current situation is as follows.

Swimming and Boating?
The Department of Health is advising people not to swim or boat in the North Bay section of Five Island Lake, where the worst contamination has occurred. This is the only part of the lake where this advisory notice applies. The purpose of the notice is to avoid stirring up and resuspending the sediments which might then move downstream. The ban on swimming and boating in North Bay is not due to direct health concerns:

You can safely continue to swim and boat in the rest of Five Island Lake and in all downstream lakes.

PCBs have been found in fish caught in Five Island and Hubley Big Lake.

Scientific research suggests that eating a steady diet of contaminated fish, over a number of years, may be harmful to human health.

As a precaution the Department of Health has advised that the public shouldnot eat fish caught in ten lakes:
Sheldrake Lake, Birch Hill Lake, Holland Marsh Lake, Lizard Lake, Frederick Lake, Five Island Lake, Five Island Lake Run, East Duck Pond, Hubley Big Lake and Long Lake.

This list has already been reduced to 10 from 20, and the Department has indicated that they are considering further reductions.

Fishing has not been banned anywhere in the watershed.

Hunting and Trapping?
The Department of Natural Resources now requires trappers who catch beaver, mink, muskrat, otter or raccoon in the Woodens River Watershed to obtain a special permit and to turn over all carcasses to the Department for testing. These carcasses will be analyzed to see if PCBs have accumulated, and if so, to what levels.

Hunting and trapping has not been banned in the watershed

Possible Impacts on Wildlife: Recent Study
Recently the media carried reports about a study carried out for Environment Canada to look at possible impacts on wildlife in the watershed that eat fish and could therefore be exposed to PCBs. Again, some of the information reported may have confused readers.

The study looked only at mink and loon, as two representative fish-eating species. It compared findings from a literature review with the levels of PCBs found in fish in Five Island Lake, and concluded that both mink and loons could be at significant risk. But so far, the conclusions are still theoretical.

The next step is to trap and study minkand to observe loon presence and behaviour in the area. 'The CLC will keep residents informed.

Containment and Clean-Up

What Has Been Done So Far
The Site and Neighbouring Properties
The former Associated Metals and Electronics Salvage Ltd scrap yard has been capped with clay and gravel to prevent surface soil from washing away and keep surface water out. Two properties immediately adjacent were bought, the buildings demolished, and the sites excavated and capped. Contaminated soil has been removed from other neighbouring properties and from the Western Brook from the site down to the marsh area near North Bay. Highly contaminated soil from the clean-up is being stored in 49 containers. Less contaminated soil has been placed in specially constructed berms. The upper part of the site has been fenced. It is inspected every month.

Monitoring Groundwater

PCBs don't dissolve, but they can be present in ground and surface water attached to fine particles. Monitoring wells on the site are being sampled. The CLC will share these findings with the community. Additional wells will be drilled later this summer. NSDOE has also sampled certain residential wells at the request of the CLC. No PCBs were found. Contact your CLC representative if you have any questions.

Monitoring the Lake System

The water, sediments and fish have been analyzed for the presence of PCBs. In the water itself PCBs are either undetectable or, in North Bay, at trace levels. They are found in the sediments of Five Island Lake and Big Hubley Lake but are mostly concentrated (about 75 percent) in North Bay. Vegetation cannot take up PCBs from the sediments, but animals can. PCB levels exceeding federal guidelines for safe consumption have been found in fish caught in Five Island Lake and Hubley Big Lake. Another study has looked at possible impacts on wilcllife that eat fish.

Technical Review Committee

A Technical Review Committee has been formed to provide scientific and technical feedback on the remediation options. A member of the CLC sits on this committee.

The Community Liaison Committee
The CLC consists of eleven volunteer representatives appointed by local homeowners and ratepayers associations, and representatives of the Department of Transportation and Public Works who are managing the remediation process, and the NS Department of Environment. The Committee is co-chaired by a resident, John Hoyt, and an NSDoE staff person, Gordon Roche.

So far, we have met 18 times to discuss issues including:

securing the site to prevent further migration of contaminants
ground water monitoring
off site clean up on neighbouring properties
the health advisories
and options for dealing with contaminated lake sediments.

What Happens Now
Future newsletters, to be distributed soon, will bring you more information about the PCB contamination problem, and about the various remediation options studied by the CLC, their advantages and disadvantages. We will also be holding a series of information and feedback meetings around the community.

We need to hear back from you. If you have questions or issues you want us to look at, please call the CLC community representative who lives nearest you.

Your Community Representatives On The Five Island Lake Community Liaison Committee

Richmond Campbell, Cambrians Cove 876-7847
Andre Faubert, Lake of the Woods 876-8390
Wenda Greer, Cambrians Cove 876-0813
John Hoyt, Three Brooks 876-2722
Ken Jakeman, Five Island Lake 876-2510
John Jardine, Five Island Lake 876-2724
Danny LeBlanc, Sheldrake Lake 876-8179
Joyce Milley, Hubley Lake Road 876-5000
Wayne Nicholson, Five Island Lake 876-2294
Murray Power, Sheldrake Lake 876-8236
Shawn Redman , Glen Margaret 823-3068