Written by Lord (Rupert) Kindersley, President of Georgian Bay Association
This document describes most of the research and information gathered over the last 4 years by Anna Martin through her organization Gumption, and assisted by many friends and family. The intent of this document is to provide a blue print for others to take over the work that has been done to date.
Although this research has raised more questions than answers concerning the possibility of widespread pollution from the Munitions and Explosives manufacturing operations at Nobel over 73 years from 1912 to 1985, a number of key points have emerged:
- The Nobel production facility was one of Canada’s largest industrial ammunition and explosive production plant for WWI, WWII and mining operations across North America. During WWI the cordite production facilities alone covered 366 acres and had 155 buildings. The lands used by these plants are referred to herein as the Nobel Lands.
- From 1915 to 1918 there was an enormous quantity of guncotton process waste water dumped in a swamp on the Nobel Lands, which overflowed into a creek, which ran into a bay on Georgian Bay, so much so that these water bodies were named Guncotton Creek and Guncotton Bay.
- From 1922 to 1926 this swamp caught fire several times and was very difficult to extinguish, such was the extent of the pollution.
- The massive pollution created at that time, particularly on the shores of Georgian Bay, caused the village of Nobel to be moved inland from its previous location on Georgian Bay to protect the residents.
- There are many stories of diseased or deformed animals and fish showing up in the area around the Nobel Lands over the years. Purple fish have been reported in Simmes Lake.
- Grenades, artillery shells and other munitions have been washing up on the local Georgian Bay shore for years. Many were reported to have washed up onto the shores in the 1990’s.
- Recently (since 2010 – exact date not known) there was a clandestine operation carried out by the Department of Defence to remove large quantities of dumped waste munition from Georgian Bay, using scuba divers, at night, from an area close to the Nobel Lands. The material was handled at the Parry Sound docks, and the Parry Sound police officers at the scene were not allowed to watch and see what was being unloaded.
- There is 1 known landfill and 2 known incineration sites on the Nobel Lands, where a wide range of dangerous chemicals were dumped or burned over the years, and it is likely that there have been many more, before landfill and incineration site registration and approval became compulsory. The status of all these landfills & sites and the extent to which there has been leaching into the surrounding soil, water bodies and aquifers is not publicly known, as no independent testing has been done, but CIL carried out extensive testing of wells in the area, mainly in 2010-2012.
- Anecdotal evidence indicates that CIL was using some of their landfill sites for the industrial waste of other users, so there is potential for additional chemicals, beyond those associated with munitions and explosives, to be present in the area.
- In 2000, Nobel’s water treatment plant failed 2 out of 4 of the tests that were applied throughout Ontario following the Walkerton disaster. There are serious questions about the quality of Nobel’s water supply over the years and whether adequate tests were done, particularly for all the potential chemicals and heavy metals that could have been, and could still be, present as a result of the munitions and explosives plants operations nearby.
- In 2006 Nobel’s water supply started to come from Parry Sound and the Nobel treatment plant was closed. However, since the extent of potential groundwater pollution in the area, including Parry Sound, is unknown.
- Highway 400, which opened in 2010, was inexplicably diverted around the Nobel Lands, rather than using the shorter, and therefore normally less expensive, route straight through them, possibly due to the dangers posed by any construction atop landfill and incineration sites on the Nobel Lands.
- Some of the Nobel Lands have been rezoned residential, but the developments, for instance Grandview Estates, appear to have been stalled for environmental concerns, raising questions about why McDougall township supported this rezoning, when it has been determined that they knew all about the landfill and incineration sites on the Nobel Lands and possibly the well testing results.
- The following is a small list of potential chemicals and heavy metals that could be present as it relates to munition production. This does not include possible contaminants that may have also been dumped in the Nobel Lands. This information was suggested by individuals in the water purification and remediation industry and environmental science fields:
- old TNT
- pink water and red water
- nitroaromatics, nitroamines and other nitrates
- Lead-azide or lead-styphnate
- The most worrying chemicals could be what are called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). Some of the latest research shows some associations between exposure to EDCs and health problems including: the potential for such chemicals to contribute to the development of non-descended testes in young males, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, development effects on the nervous system in children, attention deficit/hyperactivity in children, endometriosis, fertility issues, thyroid cancer and other cancers.
- In 2002, the Parry Sound District crude cancer incidence rate was the 3rd highest in Ontario and the age-sex adjusted rate was the 9th highest of 50 counties and districts in Ontario, but these statistics do not isolate the Nobel area, so the cancer rate in Nobel could be much higher, given the anecdotal evidence collected of known Nobel cancer victims over the years.
All of the above provides a cogent reason for concerned local residents and organizations to continue the research Anna has done and determine the extent of the pollution and health effects.
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