Arsenic in [Sudbury’s] Long Lake – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – July 31, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

With its sandy shoreline and peaceful location, Long Lake, approximately 20 minutes south of Lively, attracts people to swim, relax and fish. Area residents get their drinking water from it.
But members of the Long Lake Stewardship say arsenic is being leached into the lake, and that the ministries of Environment and Northern Development and Mines are blatantly ignoring the problem.
“There’s a gold mine on the westerly end of Long Lake, the Long Lake Gold Mine, and it has a large tailings area that leaches through a creek into Long Lake,” said Stephen Butcher, chair of the stewardship committee. “I read some reports on that mine a few years back, and it said the tailings were heavily loaded with arsenic. Logic put together that it would be creeping in by Long Lake.”
In 2010, Butcher contacted Max Kasper, a project co-ordinator with the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). “Looking at the data we have collected … despite water chemistry results that are above Provincial Water Quality Objectives for some parameters, the drainage from the former gold mine is having little impact on Long Lake,” Kasper told him in an email dated May 26, 2010.
Instead of taking what Kasper said at face value, last June, Butcher and the stewardship commissioned Testmark Laboratories Ltd., a Garsonbased company, to test the water and soil quality in the lake.
The results, Butcher said, were disturbing.
Samples of lake water were taken from the west side, closest to the tailings area, and from the side of the lake farthest from the mine, as a control sample. A soil sample was taken from the bottom of the lake.
“Testmark … said the sediment samples were off the charts,” said Butcher. “They were just so huge.”
Charles Ramcharan is the director of Laurentian University’s environmental science program. He said the provincial guidelines for arsenic in water ranges from 0.1 to 18 ug/L (micrograms per litre).
The results from the samples Testmark analyzed showed an arsenic level of 571 ug/L in the part of the lake closest to the mine. The control sample, from the opposite side of the lake, had an arsenic reading of 1.5 ug/L. The soil sample clocked in with 12,800 ug (micrograms) of arsenic.
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