Search on for independent lab to test effluent

After an offer by Abitibi Consolidated Inc. to pay for independent lab tests of the effluent that leaked across several Fort Frances properties, all the organizations involved are waiting while a laboratory is chosen.
It has been left up to residents to choose where the effluent samples will be studied and, if they do not choose a lab soon, the Northwestern Health Unit will test samples.
“The issue of an independent soil sampling is in the hands of the residents who are choosing a laboratory,” noted the town’s CAO Bill Naturkach during Monday night’s council meeting.
“By the end of the week we should have a direct news release to send to the homes on this,” he added.
According to a spokesperson, residents whose properties were affected by the spill have contacted a lawyer in Thunder Bay, but the resident would not comment further as advised by the lawyer.
In the meantime, ACI has sent a letter to the town hall which says that they will hold the town accountable for the incident.
“ACI will hold the municipality responsible for all damages suffered . . . including lost profits and costs associated with shutting down the mill, cost of the line repairs and other mitigation expenses and any third party damages or class-action,” the letter read.
The town, in turn, sent a similar letter to Moncrief Construction, the Kenora contractor doing sewer repairs when the pipe carrying the effluent from the mill to secondary treatment lagoons north of town, was hit and broken.
Meanwhile, a working group of the emergency measures Municipal Control Group, which had been meeting daily since the spill, met Monday and will not meet again until results from an independent lab analysis are available.
The group includes representatives from the town, ACI, the Northwestern Health Unit, the Ministry of the Environment, Moncrief Construction, insurers and adjusters.
“The effluent committee has been, almost daily, meeting for the last two weeks,” said Naturkach.
“The stakeholders have all been working together,” he added. “The property-owners had been attending the meeting but for some reason they have no longer been attending.”
The clean-up on the properties is being done by Moncrief Construction and was almost completed as of Monday.