More public health details needed on Halifax Water seasonal disinfection program

March 08, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Environment Minister should address safety concerns

HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative Environment critic Karla MacFarlane is calling on the Environment Minister to explain to the public what safeguards are in place during Halifax Water’s pilot project.

Halifax Water is testing a seasonal disinfection program for the next two months that will replace the current year-round system of ultraviolet (UV) light bacterial disinfection program.

Concerns have been raised that there may be unforeseen impacts on the ecosystem in and around Halifax Harbour.

“As a Maritime province, we must be conscious of what we’re putting into our waters,” says MacFarlane. “I would like to hear from Environment Minister Miller to explain to the public what safeguards are in place during Halifax Water’s pilot project.”

Cliff Andrews, president of Halifax Leatherbacks Dive Club, feels the decision to discontinue UV light bacterial disinfection isn’t a good move for water quality in Halifax Harbour.

“I’m disappointed and concerned that this decision was made in the first place,” says Andrews. “In the short term, those of us who choose to dive in the harbour won’t be going out while this program is underway.”

The CBC has also reported that there is a “high probability” that shellfish harvesting in areas such as Eastern Passage may be negatively affected.

“A study conducted by a Dalhousie University assistant professor showed that concentrations of fecal coliform will be well above safe levels under this pilot project,” says MacFarlane. “It’s clear there are unaddressed concerns, but the government has remained silent as this pilot project started.”

MacFarlane is calling on Minister Miller to explain to the public what safeguards are in place during Halifax Water’s pilot project.

-30-