Fumigant project approved for Island soil

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An environmental group says approval has been granted for a highly dangerous fumigant to be applied in Island soil just to see if it will contaminate groundwater.
"'I couldn't believe my eyes when I came across a tender for this project on a federal government website," said Earth Action co-ordinator, Sharon Labchuk "I believe it's time to raise the alarm."

Fumigant Westech

Earth Action says a contract has been approved between Environment Canada and the P.E.I. government to allow Westech to apply the pesticide to strawberry runner fields this summer in West Prince just to see how much contamination leaches into groundwater.

"They will be using chloropicrin, an exceptionally hazardous chemical banned last year in the European Union, and prohibited for use in P.E.I. without a permit," said the Millvale resident.

The province has approved the project and granted a permit, but spokesman Wayne MacKinnon said it's a pilot research project for experimental purposes.

"They want to see if it will present any risk by using it,'' said MacKinnon in an interview.

"It's a concern no doubt, but it's also a way to monitor the impact. It's only a very small patch of land that will be treated and researchers will be able to determine if the pesticide reaches the water table."

MacKinnon said Westech currently fumigates soil with a methyl bromide product which is pending a ban and Environment Canada is monitoring the experiment as efforts are sought to find a suitable replacement product.

The P.E.I. Department of the Environment says it will not allow the use of chloropicrin until it is determined that groundwater contamination is unlikely in Island soils.

"I'm very concerned that between Westech and the potato industry lobby, the province will throw Islanders under the bus and give the OK to use these exceptionally hazardous soil fumigants."

There were a number of chloropicrin incidents in Ontario last year where residents near farm fields were evacuated and roads closed, and California has more than a thousand complaints on file about chloropicrin gas exposure as ban efforts are underway.

Organizations: Environment Canada, European Union

Geographic location: California, P.E.I., West Prince Millvale Iceland Ontario

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Recent comments

  • Matthew Haughn
    January 07, 2015 - 08:14

    Do you know what this means people? This means that a crooked politician took a payout from a manufacturer of a rightly failing and horrible product. They looked at both some marketing info and a stack of cash and said yes before even searching the pesticide name. That is the best case scenario and it is likely that it was ignorant. Don't count on Islanders allowing this. Here is the news for you: This Island wants to go organic. It is going to happen. It will be good for the farmer the earth and the local and provincial economies. There won't be as many stacks of cash for politicians or large agro companies.

  • Really???
    January 06, 2015 - 18:55

    again? OMG. What is wrong with the people who either want to do this or give the permission to do this ? Are they totally stupid? Oh....maybe they will never get sick from contaminates....or drink the water. I agree with Joe Gaudet. Let's see that happen.

  • helen
    January 06, 2015 - 13:28


  • Graham
    January 06, 2015 - 08:46

    Jesus, why don't we go by the experiments that have been done in all the nations that have banned this chemical. This is ludicrous.

  • april
    May 20, 2014 - 11:04

    What the hell is wrong with u people,we r all being killed slowly and painfully because of sprays and contaminated water,our poor young generation...,let alone us all..

  • Joe Gaudet
    May 19, 2014 - 21:33

    What a bunch of idiot to allow this maybe after the experiment is completed they should be the first to drink the water.