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PFAS Information

Jack Garland Airport Remediation Project

The City of North Bay and the Department of National Defence (DND) have reached an agreement to address the remediation of per-and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) at Jack Garland Airport. The federal government will fund the majority of the costs associated with this cleanup initiative.

Overview of the Agreement:

  • The agreement includes a $20 million-contribution from DND over a period of six years.
  • DND will provide up to $19.4 million, while the City will contribute up to $600,000.
  • This funding will cover various activities such as studies, removal, and remediation related to PFAS at the airport.
  • The agreement also allows the City to submit a second proposal for additional costs if required in the future.

Understanding PFAS:

  • PFAS are manmade substances commonly found in consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foam.
  • Previous use of the airport lands for firefighter training from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s has been identified as the primary source of PFAS on the airport property.
  • While the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS was accepted during that time, its usage is now limited due to increased awareness of its environmental impact.

Water Safety:

  • The level of PFAS detected in the City's municipal water supply remains lower than the current drinking water screening values set by Health Canada and the interim guidance level provided by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).
  • A long-standing drinking water advisory for Lees Creek remains in place, and the MECP has issued a fish consumption advisory for fish from the creek.
  • Results of all City of North Bay drinking water sampling are contained within North Bay’s Drinking Water Annual Reports.  These reports are a requirement of the Safe Drinking Water Act and are provided to North Bay City Council and published annually on the City’s website.  Prior to 2021, PFAS sampling was completed by the MECP. 

Evolving Science and Regulations:

  • As PFAS are substances which are being studied extensively, guidelines and objectives are continuously developing based on new information. As the science evolves so do our drinking water standards.
  • Recently, Health Canada initiated public consultation on a draft objective of 30 nanograms per liter (ng/L) for PFAS substances in Canadian drinking water supplies. This proposed objective is lower than the interim advice value of 70ng/L set by the MECP.  (A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.)
  • It is important to note that guidelines and objectives for PFAS are continuously developing as more information becomes available. In Ontario, drinking water requirements are ultimately established by the provincial government.

Public Health Resources:

Collaborative Efforts and Monitoring:

  • Since 2017, the City has been working closely with DND, the MECP, and the Health Unit to support ongoing testing and monitoring of PFAS in Trout Lake, Lees Creek, and nearby residential wells.
  • To expedite the remediation process, the City conducted its own environmental investigations to assess PFAS contamination in soil and groundwater at the airport site.

Next Steps:

  • The City has engaged Jacobs Consultancy Canada Inc., a top ranked environmental consulting firm, to assist in the environmental remediation process for the airport lands.
  • The scope of work includes conducting environmental assessments, site-specific risk assessments, developing remediation objectives, conducting treatability studies, and designing the remediation plan.
  • Once the remediation design phase is complete, remediation work can commence. This City has targeted remediation to begin in 2024. 

The City is fully committed to this important undertaking, and will continue to dedicate its efforts to move the remediation work forward as quickly as possible, while prioritizing the safety and health of our residents.