February 7, 2005
For immediate release
Results of Air Quality Monitoring at Hazelbrook
Health and Social Services
Provincial health and environment officials provided an update today on air monitoring activities at the construction and demolition (C&D) disposal site in Hazelbrook. Air quality officials from the PEI Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry and Environment Canada were onsite Friday with a real-time gas detector. The portable unit tests for carbon monoxide, which is an indicator of incomplete combustion; methane, which may be present with decomposing material; and hydrogen sulphide, which is a gas that produces the rotten egg smell which has been detected in the Hazelbrook area at times over the past several days. The environment officials tested around the entire perimeter of the site and found no measurable detections of carbon monoxide, methane, or hydrogen sulphide. They could smell the hydrogen sulphide in some areas around the perimeter. The gas detector starts to measure hydrogen sulphide at a level of one part per million (ppm); however, the gas can be smelled at a level of 0.02 ppm, so it would have been present at a level somewhere between 0.02 and 1 ppm. Dr. Lamont Sweet, the Province’s Chief Health Officer, said at that level, there are no health concerns for the public in the area. According to occupational health and safety standards, a person can be exposed to hydrogen sulphide at a level of up to 20 ppm for eight hours a day without experiencing adverse health effects. Environment officials also conducted testing Friday in the area where a thick cloud of vapour was visible. There was no detection of carbon monoxide which would be present if there was incomplete combustion. While it may appear to be smoke, officials concluded that the cloud is water vapour. Dr. Sweet said there would be no health and safety concerns associated with water vapour. Provincial environment officials have also received results of earlier air monitoring at the Hazelbrook site. Samples collected January 13 and 26 were sent for analysis for more than 150 volatile organic compounds which may be produced when materials such as plastics are burned. Results from the January 13 testing showed either no detections or minute detections of all compounds. Results from the January 26 testing have not yet been received. Air quality staff with the PEI Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry will continue to monitor the C&D disposal site with a real-time gas detector as the operators continue to deal with the aftermath of a fire at the site. The department finalized arrangements Friday for Dr. Tony Sperling of Landfill Fire Control Inc. to come to PEI February 14. Mr. Sperling has considerable expertise in C&D operations and fires at C&D disposal sites. He will confer with the Fire Marshall’s Office and meet with the Provincial Environmental Advisory Council which is currently carrying out a comprehensive review of the regulations governing C&D disposal sites. Work continues at the Hazelbrook site to tighten up the disposal piles so as to minimize the potential for future flare-ups. The Provincial Fire Marshall’s Office is overseeing these efforts.
-30-Media Contact: Sandra Lambe