The consultants who submitted the reports concluded that the base's herbicide application program followed federal and provincial regulations and guidelines applicable at the time in employing herbicides within Gagetown's 110,000-hectare Range and Training Area (RTA) where live-fire military training occurs.
Task 2B was based on a field sampling program performed by an independent contractor, Jacques Whitford, between September 28, 2005, and November 9, 2005. The program included the collection of a total of 1250 samples (including soil, sediment, vegetation and water) in the RTA.
The sampling program found higher than acceptable levels of dioxins in the soil in the area where US tests occurred in 1967 (i.e. Ripon Road area). Concentrations slightly above Canadian guidelines of dioxins in soil were also found in the Clones bivouac site, the Murphy bivouac site, the Enniskillen Range, the 1966 US test sites, and four other sites in the RTA.
In a proactive precautionary measure, DND has restricted site access to areas where dioxins concentrations were the highest (i.e. 1967 USDoA Test Plots) as well as where human exposure to surface soils would be the most concentrated (i.e. in the bivouacs) until the results of a site specific risk assessment are completed. The restricted areas represent less than two square kilometres out of a total of 1,100 square kilometres, or less than one percent of the Gagetown training area.
"We've restricted access to areas that represent less than one percent of the training area until we receive the human health risk assessment. This will not interfere with the base's role of providing world-class training to soldiers as they prepare for dangerous operations both at home and abroad," he added.
Dr. Connie Moase of Health Canada said the soon to be released health study will determine if access can once again be granted to the three restricted sites.
"It is important to understand that when dioxin levels in the soil are higher than the soil quality guidelines, it does not automatically mean that there would be a risk of adverse health effects for individuals at the site." Dr. Moase specified.
"The potential risk depends on many things, including how people might have been exposed and for how long."
Task 2A and 2B were prompted by the Base Commander's pledge less than a year ago to test the soil, water and vegetation. The first task notes that a total of 24 products were applied at CFB Gagetown for annual vegetation control, while also stating that disposal practises improved over the years as barrels and containers were punctured, rinsed and recycled, or returned to the manufacturer.
PIC3R"These reports represent an important milestone and will greatly assist our efforts to ensure that CFB Gagetown remains the home of the Army, an integral part of the provincial community and a safe place to live work and play," concluded Col Jestin.
For additional background information on the use of herbicides at CFB Gagetown, please visit the following sites:
Article by Captain Martell Thompson
Photos courtesy of Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Department of National Defence