Edmonton

Chemical transfer forces northern hamlet of Janvier to cut water supply

Residents of a northern Alberta hamlet have spent three days under a warning to not consume their community’s water, following the transfer of a “mix of chemicals” into a local water treatment plant.

Cleanup is expected to take at least a week

The hamlet of Janvier, Alta. is about 120 kilometres south of Fort McMurray in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. (Google)

Residents of a northern Alberta hamlet have spent three days under a warning to not consume their community's water, following the transfer of a "mix of chemicals" into a local water treatment plant.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is warning residents of Janvier, Alta. — a small community about 120 kilometres south of Fort McMurray — against using water for drinking, cooking, or personal hygiene tasks such as teeth brushing.

Cleanup is expected to take at least a week, during which time the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo says it will supply residents with water by other means. 

According to a series of updates on the municipality's website, the chemicals were transferred into the water treatment plant at about 10 a.m. on Friday. As a precaution, the municipality said it has stopped water distribution from the plant to all connected residences. 

Any buildings that rely on water truck deliveries to their cisterns but that haven't received a delivery since 8 a.m. on Friday are not affected. Truck delivery is continuing normally. 

On Saturday, the municipality said it was beginning planning and cleanup at the water treatment plant, a process that will include removing the chemicals, cleaning the reservoir, and reinstalling the tank.

The municipality described the work as "complex" and advised it is expected to take a week to 10 days to complete.

According to AHS, environmental public health officers are monitoring the situation, including sampling and testing of the drinking water, to ensure it is safe for consumption. The health authority says the alert will remain in effect until further notice.

Residents are invited to a community dinner and information session at the Janvier Multiplex at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Water is available for pick-up at the municipal office in Janvier, though arrangements for delivery can be made for people unable to get there. 

A 2015 census found there were 155 people living in Janvier, which is home to a large Métis population and the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation.

About the Author

Paige Parsons is an Edmonton-based reporter and web editor. She can be reached at paige.parsons@cbc.ca.

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