January 23, 2006

Regular well testing urged after uranium levels exceed guidelines in local public water supply

HALIFAX, NS-Well owners in Nova Scotia are being reminded of the importance of testing their wells regularly following the discovery of naturally-occurring uranium in well water at the Malagash Mine Community Club in Cumberland County. The uranium was discovered in October by Department of Environment and Labour officials who were studying arsenic levels in the province. The water at the Malagash club had a uranium level of 37 micrograms (ug) per litre, compared with the maximum concentration of 20 ug/litre recommended by the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. Dr Shelly Sarwal, the region's medical officer of health said that although the levels of uranium found at this location were above Canadian guidelines, they do not pose an immediate health concern. "The community club is used only a few times each month, so it's not likely that anyone would have been exposed to enough uranium to pose a health risk," she said. Uranium occurs naturally in varying concentrations in Nova Scotia's soil and bedrock and can be removed from drinking water during treatment. The Malagash club well is one of 1,800 multi-user wells, known as registered public drinking water supplies, in the province. These are required to test their water regularly and report any problems to the Department of Environment and Labour.

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