Update on assessment and residential sampling programs – November 20, 2018
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) remains committed to an approach that is evidence-based, open, and transparent for the ongoing environmental site assessment at the National Fire Laboratory (NFL) in Mississippi Mills, Ontario.
Over the last 36 months, the NRC and its partners have been actively studying and monitoring the environmental conditions at the National Fire Laboratory. The NRC has done its due diligence by conducting these studies under objective review with external reviewers to confirm the understanding of the environmental conditions at the National Fire Laboratory and the area immediately surrounding the facility.
Please note that while firefighting testing activities remain on hold at the National Fire Laboratory, during 2018 and 2019 the NRC will be conducting required building maintenance and repairs in addition to ongoing environmental assessment and monitoring activities. As a result, you may observe some increase in traffic and activities at the facility.
The NRC will also continue to provide seasonal drinking water sampling to affected residents until at least the end of 2019. The program will be reviewed annually.
Completion of first year of sampling – February 3, 2017
NRC has just received results from the Fall 2016 residential drinking water sampling event and is presently sharing the results with residents who took part in this event. This concludes the first year of the sampling program, which NRC has committed to continue until at least Fall 2018.
The following summarizes conclusions of the sampling program so far:
- There have been no detections of any PFAS compounds in samples taken of water filtered through NRC-provided filtration systems. This indicates that the filtration systems are effectively removing PFAS from residential drinking water.
- There have been some variations in results for unfiltered water throughout the seasons, as expected.
- Health Canada believes that no health risks are expected, now or in the future, based on the results to date of the residential drinking water sampling program.
Research testing remains suspended at the National Fire Laboratory site in Mississippi Mills. However, to move items for storage purposes, residents may notice a variety of large work vehicles moving in and out of the site over the next few weeks.
Update on sampling activities – January 6, 2017
NRC is continuing our work to assess the environmental conditions present at the National Fire Laboratory site. All operations at the facility remain suspended until site investigation activities are complete.
To date, NRC has performed three residential seasonal drinking water sampling events and is committed to continuing the sampling until at least the Fall of 2018. The seasonal sampling is conducted as a precautionary measure to assess the consistency of the results for residential drinking water throughout the seasons. Results to date continue to indicate low to no detection of Perfluorinated Alkylated Substances (PFAS) in residential drinking water, prior to filtration. Health Canada does not believe that residents will experience any health effects from PFAS, now or in the future, based on current levels in drinking water. In addition, we have been providing residents with bottled water and water filtration systems, the sampling results of which indicate no detection of PFAS in drinking water post-filtration.
NRC is also conducting on-site surface soil testing. Preliminary results identified very low levels of several compounds of potential concern on the NFL property, including cadmium, vanadium, sulphur, cyanide, and lead. Health Canada has reviewed the results for both ecological and human health and has indicated that based on the sample test results to date, they consider it is unlikely that there are any risks to human health.
Health Canada also indicates that further testing and expanded sampling is required to more fully assess the soil situation. Health Canada recommends that this sampling should include additional on-site testing as well as off-site testing. As such, NRC is conducting additional on-site surface soil testing and has offered soil testing to residents as a precautionary measure.
Completion of remediation project – September 23, 2016
As part of the National Research Council of Canada's commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of Mississippi Mills residents, the soil remediation project at the National Fire Laboratory (NFL) site has now been completed.
The remediation project included:
- removal of a targeted area of soil containing PFAS down to the bedrock;
- transportation of the removed soils to a facility licenced by the MOECC to accept this material;
- sealing the exposed bedrock with a concrete;
- installation of an impermeable surface on top of the concrete surface; and
- backfilling the area with gravel.
NRC will continue seasonal drinking water monitoring on site and off site until Autumn 2018 to assess the consistency of results throughout the seasons.
NRC and the Government of Canada are committed to listening to residents' concerns and answering their questions. If residents have questions about the remediation project or any other aspect of the assessment, they are encouraged to contact our Environmental Stewardship Office at email@example.com or 613-990-0974.
Commencement of remediation project – August 5, 2016
NRC will soon commence the soil remediation project at its National Fire Laboratory (NFL) site. Remediation activities at the NFL are planned to start the week of August 8th and expected to be completed by this fall.
The work will occur from Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents will notice increased traffic and possibly noise levels associated with construction equipment and large trucks moving on and off the NFL site. The planned remediation includes the removal of soils down to the bedrock for off-site disposal at an authorized facility. The contractor will employ preventative measures to minimize dust generated by remediation activities and to clean all vehicles before they leave the site. Residents may also notice a drone flying over NRC property to take imagery of the site for use in the ongoing assessment work.
NRC is committed to keeping residents informed and listening to their concerns. Additional updates on this project will be posted on the website as new information comes in, and residents with any questions or concerns are encouraged to contact our Environmental Stewardship Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-990-0974.
Update on mitigation and remediation activities – July 19, 2016
The National Research Council (NRC) – along with officials from Health Canada – was pleased to provide an update on their assessment of the quality of the groundwater in the region surrounding the Mississippi Mills Fire Lab.
A status update was provided to inform residents about the work completed over the past few months, including the mitigation and remediation activities at the NFL site. Remediation is underway and is expected to be completed by this fall.
As mentioned by Health Canada in their session presentation, the NRC has addressed exposure concerns by providing residents with bottled water and water filters which completely remove PFAS.
The NRC will continue to sample residential drinking water in the area until Fall 2018. To date, the testing results indicate trace amounts of PFAS continue to be found in the water in some areas. However, there has not been any trace of PFAS in the water samples that have been filtered through NRC-installed filtration systems.
In their presentation, Health Canada's officials also stated that:
- There is residual PFAS in soil and groundwater, and this is expected to be continuously reduced and removed from the area over time, through movement of water and removal of contaminated soil; and
- Health effects from PFAS are not expected, now or in the future, based on Health Canada's screening values.
As part of our commitment to listening to residents' concerns and answering their questions, we encourage the community of Mississippi Mills to periodically visit this webpage for additional information, updates, and ways to engage our new Environmental Stewardship Office with any questions and comments.
In the spirit of openness and transparency, we have made our environmental assessment reports related to the NFL available to order online. Should you wish to receive a copy of these reports, please order them via the following web form.
Please allow up to three business days to receive these reports by email and up to five business days to receive these reports by mail.
Sampling activities for the spring – May 13, 2016
As part of the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of our neighbouring community, with the assistance of public and private water experts, we are continuing our groundwater flow and quality assessment surrounding the National Fire Laboratory located in Mississippi Mills, Ontario.
To date, NRC's hired experts have tested well water for 45 residences in the Mississippi Mills study area. As a precautionary measure, residents from the study area will be included within the next seasonal well drinking water sampling tests to take place in the coming month. They will also continue to be provided with water filtration systems and receive reimbursement for bottled water.
As an additional precautionary measure, and in response to requests from other members of the community close to the facility, NRC will be extending its offer of water sample testing for Perfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS) to additional residents to an area within 2 kilometers towards the east and 1 kilometer to the west of the National Fire Laboratory.
Letters have been sent to residents within the expanded area with more information on the testing activities and how they can have their water tests booked.
Completion of first assessment phase – April 1, 2016
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) met with residents to provide an update on the completion of the first phase of the groundwater flow and quality assessment at the National Fire Laboratory in Mississippi Mills, Ontario. NRC continues to take the situation and the concerns of residents very seriously.
As part of the ongoing assessment, NRC has completed a risk mitigation and remediation action plan, and has begun preparing for its implementation.
Recent results indicate that all residential wells have tested well below Health Canada screening values. Exposure to PFAS in drinking water is not considered to pose a risk to Canadians if levels fall below the Health Canada screening values.
While these results and the assessment to date indicate a very low level of risk, both on and off the NRC property, NRC continues to take a precautionary approach to mitigation and to defining and implementing remediation measures.
NRC will continue to monitor residential wells as part of its groundwater assessment program and update residents on an ongoing basis. NRC will also continue to offer bottled water and is providing the installation of water filtration systems for residents in the assessment area.
As our practices have evolved with environmental guidelines and regulations, all water related to testing at the National Fire Laboratory has been collected and removed from the site for treatment and disposal at a licensed facility since 2014.
Residential drinking water sampling results – March 15, 2016
As an update to the ongoing groundwater flow and quality assessment surrounding the National Fire Laboratory located in Mississippi Mills, Ontario, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is meeting with residents adjacent to the facility to discuss their respective testing results. Residents who have requested that their drinking water be tested under NRC's residential sampling program were provided a property-specific confidential report. NRC continues to reach out to residents to offer water testing.
In accordance to provisions of the Privacy Act and in the spirit of transparency, below is the cumulative data for the 41 residences who requested well water testing:
- 23 residences had no detections for Perfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS);
- 17 residences had low-level detections below Health Canada's screening values and therefore are not considered to pose a risk to human health;
- 1 residence tested slightly above Health Canada's screening values.
As a precautionary measure, NRC has offered to reimburse residents for bottled water for the duration of the assessment. Furthermore, NRC is implementing a program to provide and install residential water filtration at no costs to residents.
NRC, with the assistance of public and private sector experts, will continue to monitor residential wells as part of its groundwater assessment program and update residents on an ongoing basis.
The health and safety of Canadians and our employees is a top priority for NRC in all that we do.
Environmental assessment and sampling program – February 26, 2016
In accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property and guidance from the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has been assessing the environmental quality of all its properties. This includes the National Fire Laboratory located in Mississippi Mills, Ontario, for which the focus of the assessment was to better understand groundwater flow and quality in the area.
Assessments of the groundwater flow and drinking water detected low levels of Perfluoroalkylated Substances (PFAS) on this property. NRC takes this issue very seriously and has taken steps to identity the origin and extent of the potential groundwater contamination and its impact on residential wells.
We have also hired experts to support our assessment and undertake a residential sampling program and laboratory analysis. Results of these tests are being communicated to residents directly.
Ensuring sound environmental stewardship throughout our operations is of the utmost importance for NRC.