When in Fort Albany First Nation last summer, someone made a comment about the potential negative health effects because a radar station constructed by the Department of Defence in the late 1950s and abandoned in the mid-1960s had been left to rot, with many toxins and chemicals leaching into the lands and the water systems. This is indeed the case. Not until the early 2000s did this site begin to be 'decontaminated'. However, what seems to have been missed is a comprehensive health study on the population dating from 1957 to current day to see how harshly the health of residents had been - and continues to be - impacted due to the leaching of PCBs, lead, mercury, asbestos, DDT and other chemicals into the lands and water system. In other words, it is not enough that the lands have been 'decontaminated'. What needs to be known is the contamination of the human body taking in these toxins/chemicals over the course of a great number of years.
In reading a recent article on the 'safe' level of PCBs when measured in the soil, the safe level should be 50 ppm or less. When measured at the Ft. Albany site, this level far exceeded the safe level. One reading, in the late 1990s, was 21,000 ppm, in other words highly toxic to the lands, animals, water system and thus, to the people of Ft. Albany and those living in the western James Bay Region.
In reading articles on PCB absorption into living entities, there is great concern because PCBs may be linked to a number of illnesses including cancer, respiratory problems, leukaemia and auto-immune diseases. Those who eat fish from waters polluted with PCBs are at highest risk for these diseases. PCBs, once they enter a living creature deposit mostly in the liver and fats of the body. They do NOT break down and leave the body over time. Instead, they accumulate. Bioaccumulation of PCBs is a critical area that people in the region need to be aware of, especially considering that chemicals/toxins were (out of neglect of the Canadian government) likely leaching into the lands and waterways for over 40 years.
PCBs (for example) leach from the radar site into the land.
The land floods, or there are heavy rains.
This water takes the PCBs from the land and transfers it into the waterways.
The water and everything in it then becomes contaminated.
The PCBs find haven in plankton, which is then eaten by small fish.
The small fish, already storing PCBs from the contamination of the water, then also store the PCBs that were in the plankton they ate.
A bigger fish then eats that smaller fish. The bigger fish is already retaining PCBs in its body because of the contamination of the water from waters carrying chemicals into the waterways. The bigger fish then becomes more contaminated from eating the contaminated smaller fish that has consumed contaminated plankton, plankton that was contaminated from toxins that entered the waterways through leaching.
People, then, when eating the fish (especially when consuming fish (or any other wildlife) over a great number of years have taken on an ENORMOUS amount of PCBs that the body holds onto, contaminating the body, potentially in a very damaging way.
I will post as many articles and threads that I can find.
Former Grand Chief had started petitioning the government a number of years back. I am wondering if anyone has since begun to carry this torch. Have you? Please let me know by going to the Contact Us page of this site.
Susan G. Enberg is a Masters of Fine Arts graduate student at Ryerson University. Her main fields of research are: the hard-handed measures of governments to control what they consider to be expendable populations; and, Cold War human experimentation.