April 1, 2017

Archives for March 2017

Peel anti-fluoride lobby spotlights toxic cleanup needed after Hwy. 401 pileup − Water fluoridation chemical spilled

Tractor-Trailers On Snowy 401 highway After 14-Mar-2017 Crash East of Toronto Results In Hydrofluorosilicic Acid Spill Prompting Officials To Evacuate Area COF-COF.caBy: Roger Belgrave, Brampton Guardian, Brampton, Ontario 17-Mar-2017 − Peel water fluoridation opponents are pointing to the extensive environmental cleanup needed this week, after a Highway 401 pileup, to illustrate the serious health risks associated with the local water treatment practice.

The multi-vehicle collision in the westbound lanes of Highway 401 in Leeds and the Thousands Township occurred at about 2 p.m. on March 14.

It resulted in one death, dozens hurt and a 32-hour closure of a portion of the busy highway.

One transport truck involved leaked its cargo of hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFSA), a chemical produced from phosphorite rock that is commonly used in water fluoridation.

According to Ontario Provincial Police, the “toxic spill” resulted in a precautionary evacuation of the immediate area and seven firefighters, three police officers and 17 civilians were treated, as a precaution, for exposure to the chemical.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the transport truck leaked about 7,000 litres of the chemical.

The ministry helped co-ordinate cleanup and assessed containment and environmental impact.

A spokesperson said cleanup measures included collecting acid from the leaking containers, applying a stabilizer to neutralize acid that could not be pumped from the accident scene, and removal of contaminated soil and neutralized material.

“There are no known private drinking water wells impacted,” said an email from the ministry. “The environmental consultant has been asked to provide the ministry with a second plan to address longer term monitoring.”

Opponents of the water treatment, which received council go-ahead to continue last week after a contentious review, have insisted HFSA is a highly toxic byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing process.

This unfortunate highway accident and resulting environmental scare is proof of how toxic the chemical is, according to the anti-fluoride lobby.

“HFSA is a clear and present danger in our water, on our roads and to the workers forced to handle it,” said Christine Massey, a local anti-fluoride activist.

During the recent review of water fluoridation in Peel, regional staff and health officials assured council and the public the levels of HFSA in community drinking water are safe to consume.

The Region of Peel said the water-based liquid additive used in Peel is NSF 60 (National Sanitation Foundation) certified, as required under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meets purity standards and complies with all Ministry of Environment and Climate Change regulations.

“In order to ensure the safety of staff and residents, all products used in Peel’s municipal water supply meet strict requirements defined by national accrediting organizations,” Peel Region public works manager Jeff Hennings said in an email. “Peel’s water is carefully monitored to ensure it meets all appropriate provincial regulations.”

At a March 9 meeting, councillors endorsed a motion from the region’s community water fluoridation committee reaffirming the municipality’s commitment to oral health, while recommending fluoride concentrations in local drinking water be reduced to 0.5 milligrams per litre and switched to a calcium fluoride additive to address concerns about the toxicity of Peel’s current additive.

http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/7195543-peel-anti-fluoride-lobby-spotlights-toxic-cleanup-needed-after-hwy-401-pileup/

Victim identified, cleanup and investigation underway in 401 crash

Tractor-Trailers On Snowy 401 highway After 14-Mar-2017 Crash East of Toronto Results In Hydrofluorosilicic Acid Spill Prompting Officials To Evacuate Area COF-COF.caBy: Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario 15-Mar-2017 – LANSDOWNE – A 45-year-old Hamilton man has been identified as the victim of a multi-vehicle collision that led to a chemical spill and closed Highway 401 for hours east of Brockville.

Police identified the victim as Ian Meville, a transport-truck driver. Police did not identify the cause of death.

Police confirmed a “serious collision involving transports” along Highway 401 westbound lanes near kilometre marker 675 early Tuesday afternoon in which a corrosive material spilled onto the road and some vehicles were reportedly trapped underneath transport trucks.

Provincial police advised Wednesday afternoon that the highway remains closed in both directions for the investigation. (See detour map at bottom of the story.)

Meaghan Quinn, spokeswoman for Kingston General Hospital, confirmed late Tuesday that said a decontamination bay was opened at the hospital for all those who were exposed to the chemical, noting that the substance had been confirmed as fluorosilicic acid.

The official Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) covering industrial use of this acid says it is irritating to the airways, and can cause skin irritation, redness or swelling. Extended breathing of fumes can cause “burning sensation, coughing, wheezing, laryngitis, shortness of breath, headache, nausea and vomiting.”

It recommends people exposed to it should be taken into the fresh air, and skin should be washed thoroughly with soap and water. If necessary flush the eyes with water for 20 minutes. The MSDS instructions say people may wish to see a doctor if symptoms are severe.

The acid is used in fluoridating water, and in aluminum production.

Twenty-nine patients were brought to the hospital, which declared a “code orange,” meaning non-critical emergency admissions were routed to nearby Hôtel Dieu Hospital to make way for crash casualties.

Thirteen of the injured were first responders, Quinn said.

By 9 p.m., a number of patients had been discharged and others were being held for observation before it was decided whether they would be released or admitted.

Earlier, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands said in a Facebook post that “all persons with potential chemical exposure (have) been transported for medical attention. No residential properties were affected and there is no risk to the general public.”

According to witnesses’ postings on social media accounts, emergency vehicles and fire rescue trucks were being used to take victims who had been exposed to the hazardous substance to an impromptu decontamination centre established at the township fire station in Lansdowne.

Township Mayor Joe Baptista said at the scene “at least 20” people were sent to hospitals from the Lansdowne control centre.

“There was at least one individual in critical condition, and a second individual in serious condition,” Baptista said.

Patients were brought to a control centre at the fire station where they went through a decontamination process.

“(They had) to be completely hosed down. Your clothing and everything is taken. Anything on your person has to be removed,” he said.

Brockville General Hospital spokesperson Abby McIntyre confirmed BGH admitted one person involved in the crash with minor injuries, with the rest of the victims sent to Kingston.

An emergency response in TLTI, led by the township’s ‘community control group,” was initiated around 3 p.m. as first responders were on site and co-ordinating a medical response.

Ottawa Fire Services Hazmat unit — one three designated agencies for hazardous materials incidents for the whole province — was contacted by the Office of the Fire Marshal to assist responders.

At 5:15 p.m., response crews reported the chemical spill had been contained.

“All vehicles have been rerouted and all persons with potential chemical exposure having been transported for medical attention,” said Elaine Mallory, the township’s director of planning.

Cleanup crews had arrived on site by late afternoon to remediate the area of the chemical spill. The Ministry of the Environment was among those on site of the spill.

First responders termed the highway pileup as a “mass casualty” event due to the number of people exposed to the hazardous chemicals carried by the leaking tanker truck.

Anybody who endured even minor inhalation exposure to the substance was being taken to hospital, according to responders.

The chain-reaction collision reportedly involved a dozen or more tractor trailers in the wind-driven blizzard conditions along the Hwy. 401 corridor, along with many passenger vehicle collisions.

Images and social media users’ videos as well as eyewitness reports portrayed several jackknifed tractors across the road or tipped into the median of the highway.

(With files from Sabrina Bedford, Brockville Recorder and Times)

Victim identified, 401 reopens as investigation into crash continues

1 dead after 30-vehicle crash, chemical spill on Highway 401 near Kingston (29 patients treated at hospital, including 13 first responders who underwent decontamination)

COF-COF Special News Find 300 x 300By: CBC News 14-Mar- 2017 (Last Updated 15-Mar-2017) – Kingston General Hospital says one person has died following a massive, 30-vehicle crash on Highway 401 east of the city that spilled a toxic substance at the scene.

The afternoon pileup closed the highway in both directions and forced motorists to evacuate from the area.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the Kingston hospital said it received 29 patients from the crash scene, including 13 first responders who underwent decontamination and were held for observation as a precaution. Some of the patients have already been released.

The OPP said a male driver of one of the tractor-trailers involved in the crash died as a result of his injuries.

The hazardous material unit was called in because some of the tractor-trailers involved in the crash were carrying caustic materials, later identified as fluorosilicic acid, according to the hospital.

“Exposure to the chemical could cause irritation to the nose, throat, respiratory system, irritation, redness or swelling of the skin and severe eye irritation,” the statement said.

The flood of patients has diminished and the hospital declared a code orange over at 8 p.m. ET. According to the Ontario Hospital Association, code orange is used in the event of an external disaster resulting in a surge of casualties seeking care at a hospital urgent or emergency department.

“One of the involved transports is leaking a toxic substance, as a precaution the area is being evacuated,” said Const. Sandra Barr in a news release. “Both east and westbound 401 will be closed to allow for the investigation. Detours have been set up.”

The eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 401 remain closed from Reynolds Road to Mallorytown Road.

Barr told CBC News some first responders were exposed to the chemical while coming to the aid of the driver of a transport truck, who was taken to hospital for his injuries.

“The five firefighters, for sure, were involved in trying to rescue this driver who was in his transport, and the three police officers as well,” she said.

Medical attention required

The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, where the crash occurred, said in a statement that the site has been contained.

“All vehicles have been rerouted and all persons with potential chemical exposure having been transported for medical attention. No residential properties were affected and there is no risk to the general public,” a spokesperson for the township wrote at 5:15 p.m. on the municipality’s Facebook page.

“The Ministry of the Environment has been notified and cleanup crews have arrived on site to remediate the area from the chemical spill.”

Police described conditions on the highway as “near whiteout” when the crash occurred around 2 p.m. ET.

Gananoque police posted a message on their Facebook page saying that according to the Leeds Fire Department, the hazardous material that leaked turns into hydrofluoric acid if exposed to heat.

“Hydrofluoric acid is a highly toxic, highly corrosive and poisonous solution which is harmful to skin, lungs and eyes.”

Decontamination bay

Kingston General Hospital set up a decontamination bay for patients, according to spokesperson John Pereira.

Non-critical emergency patients were rerouted to Hotel Dieu Hospital, also in Kingston, said Pereira.

Police asked motorists at the scene to stay in their vehicles while emergency crews carried out their work.

Emergency responders from the surrounding area, including Ottawa fire services, were at the scene.

About 30 vehicles, mostly tractor-trailers, were involved in the crash, according to Acting Sgt. Angie Atkinson.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/highway-401-collision-1.4024721

One dead after multiple transport collision, chemical spill on Highway 401

COF-COF Special News Find 300 x 300By: Cris Vilela, Kingston Heritage, Kingston, Ontario 14-Mar-2017 – OPP report that one male is deceased following the multi-vehicle pile-up and chemical spill that took place on Highway 401 in Leeds and Thousand Islands Township Tuesday afternoon.

Ian Meville, 45, of Hamilton, was transported to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Meville was a transport driver involved in the westbound primary collision.

The incident was labelled a “mass casualty event” due to the high number of people exposed to a hazardous material, which leaked from one of the tractor trailers involved.

An OPP investigation revealed that there were in fact two separate collisions. The primary collision occurred just east of Highway 137 and involved five tractor trailers and one car. Police say the driver of one of the tractor trailers has since succumbed to his injuries.

The secondary collision also took place in the westbound lanes, about one kilometer west of the first and involved seven tractor trailers and three vehicles. There were multiple chain reactions after the fact behind those two collisions. In the same vicinity on eastbound Highway 401, three other tractor trailers were involved in collisions.

The leaked hazardous material, fluorosilicic acid, turns into hydrofluoric acid if exposed to heat, according to the Leeds Fire Department. Hydrofluoric acid is a highly toxic, highly corrosive and poisonous solution which is harmful to skin, lungs and eyes. Extrication of the driver carrying the liquid was required after the transport ended up in a ditch. A HAZMAT team was called to the site. The transport was carrying between 7,000 and 10,000 litres of this liquid*, most of which leaked all over the roadway.

Several people were reported to have become covered in the hazardous liquid. The fire department set up a decontamination area in the eastbound lanes to treat those exposed; they were instructed to disrobe and remove contact lenses if they had them.

OPP report that a total of seven firefighters, three police officers and 17 civilians were treated for exposure to the substance as a precaution. Frontenac Paramedics also report that three members of their team were treated for exposure.

Kingston General Hospital declared a Code Orange (Mass Casualty Event) late Tuesday afternoon due to the large influx of patients from the collision scene being brought in for treatment. KGH opened a decontamination bay for all those who were exposed to the chemical. Exposure to the fluorosilicic acid could cause irritation to the nose, throat, respiratory system, irritation, redness or swelling of the skin and severe eye irritation.

The hospital reports that it treated 29 patients in total as a result of the accident, 13 of whom were emergency services first responders who underwent decontamination and were held for observation as a precaution. The Code Orange was declared over at 8 p.m. KGH says their emergency department returned to business as usual operations at that time. The hospital began to discharge some patients involved in the 401 pile-up Tuesday night.

If you believe a family member or loved one may be at KGH as a result of the accident, please call the hotline at 613-549-6666 ext. 4704 for info.

The Ministry of the Environment has been notified and clean-up crews have arrived on site to remediate the area from the chemical spill.

Highway 401 will remain closed indefinitely in both directions between Mallorytown and Lansdowne.

A Wednesday morning news release from the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands said that response crews at the scene of the chemical spill were hampered by the winter storm, which continued overnight. Daylight will offer opportunity for a full reassessment and continued action.

“The Emergency Response Action Plan has been reviewed by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change as well as Hazmat officials and its implementation will be monitored through the day based on current situational analysis” said Mayor Joe Baptista in a press release. “Once again we reinforce that there is no immediate danger to the public and that the site is contained.”

Residents and travellers are encouraged to avoid the area and allow additional travel time to suit weather conditions and detour routes.

More information will be updated as it becomes available.

*Amended from an earlier estimation of 14,000 litres

http://www.kingstonregion.com/news-story/7189833-one-dead-after-multiple-transport-collision-chemical-spill-on-highway-401/

Peel council unanimous in voting to continue with water fluoridation – Province asked to check toxicity

COF-COF News Find 300 x 300By: Roger Belgrave, Brampton Guardian, Brampton, Ontario 09-Mar-2017 Peel will continue fluoridation of the region’s drinking water system.

In a decision one anti-fluoride activist called criminal, Peel council members unanimously voted to continue the long-standing practice of adding fluoride to the municipal water supply ­— albeit at a slightly lower concentration.

At a March 9 meeting, councillors endorsed a motion from the region’s Community Water Fluoridation Committee.

The committee was established more than a year ago to probe the health benefits of water fluoridation and recommend a regional position on the decades-old practice in Peel.

Last month, committee members passed a motion to reaffirm the region’s commitment to oral health, while recommending fluoride concentrations in local drinking water be reduced to 0.5 mg/l and a switch to a calcium fluoride additive to address concerns about the toxicity of Peel’s current additive.

Mississauga Coun. Carolyn Parrish, chair of the committee, had earlier told council that coming to a definitive regional position on water fluoridation had been difficult process given all the contradictory information from experts, advocates, health officials and scientific studies on both sides of the debate.

When the review began, she noted, there were members of the committee bent on removing fluoride from the drinking water.

“Some have changed their position. I’m one of them,” remarked Parrish, who added the motion was a compromise derived with the best interest of residents in mind.

But it is still unacceptable to anti-fluoride activists such as Brampton resident Christine Massey who view fluoride as a poison.

She spoke to council before the vote and reiterated her fears about the toxicity of the fluoride residents consume in water from their taps.

She accused the council of “illegally drugging” residents and pleaded for at least a moratorium on fluoridation while the region awaits response from the provincial government on a request to test toxicity levels of the local additive and assume responsibility for administering municipal water fluoridation in Ontario.

Brampton Coun. John Sprovieri, a loud anti-fluoride voice on council who supported the motion, isn’t optimistic about the province taking action on those requests.

Debate on the issue six years ago also ended with council unanimously deciding to continue fluoridation.

http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news-story/7182264-peel-council-unanimous-in-voting-to-continue-with-water-fluoridation/