Clean bill of health
Water testing reveals no danger from mines

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 07/97) - Concerns about the environmental impact of mining on water and fish in the Yellowknife-Back Bay area are unfounded, according to a government report released yesterday.

With the exception of two sites that received effluent from the mines, water quality results were well within federal safety guidelines. And in those two outlet sites, the results were only slightly above the guidelines.

David Milburn, manager of water resources at DIAND, which produced the report, said the risk in the Baker Creek and Peg Lake areas is minimal.

"The Back Bay study results have shown that most of contaminants that exceed the maximum allowable concentration are not in locations that would normally have a direct effect on human health," said the report.

"People wouldn't normally be there anyway," said Milburn.

Essentially, he said, the study reveals that the water is safe to drink, safe to swim in and the fish are edible.

"That's, however, not to say other work is not required," he said. "There may be further sampling done."

The Yellowknife-Back Bay Study started in August 1992 after aboriginal groups raised concerns about the level of arsenic and mercury in the fish and water around Back Bay.

"This study has addressed their concerns and has shown that there's nothing to worry about," said Milburn.

Scientists attribute the lack of environmental impacts to more stringent licensing to mines, he added.

While the Yellowknife-Back Bay Water Quality Study is the third such report to be done, Milburn maintains it's the most comprehensive report yet.