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MLA ‘disappointed’ Kam Lake arsenic levels only now known

The MLA for Kam Lake says he’s disappointed that his constituents are being made aware of data concerning high levels of arsenic in the lake nearly thirty years later.

RELATED: High arsenic levels in Kam Lake from 1989 prompt advisory

On Monday, the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) issued an updated public advisory concerning arsenic levels in the Yellowknife area.

The original advisory from last year did not include information on Kam Lake; that was until a study from 1989 was discovered by HSS this winter.

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The data showed that at that time, Kam Lake had one of the highest concentrations of arsenic of the areas studied.

“It’s quite shocking that this information is coming to them after decades in some cases of living out here,” Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart told Moose FM.

The advisory was updated when the information was found, but Testart says it should have been done well before.

“A lot of people who live in Kam Lake and around Kam Lake weren’t really aware of the potential risks to human health,” he said.

“They’re saying that this is the first they’ve heard of the significant risks to the health of their families and their animals.”

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‘Don’t drink the water’

Kam Lake’s water should not be consumed according Monday’s advisory, and people should not swim or fish in it or harvest berries and other edible plants around the area.

READ: The full advisory on the Department of Health and Social Service’s website

Testart wants the GNWT to look into anything that can be done to remediate Kam Lake, and to assess if there are any risks to the people who live there.

Until that’s done, he says residents should air on the side of caution.

“At this time [Kam Lake] is not safe to use recreationally so it’s best to be avoided,” Testart said.

“Don’t drink the water. Don’t fish in the water, don’t let your animals play in the water. Be cautious and careful, and if you do have a more specific concern, contact myself or the Department of Natural Resources and ask for their assessment of whatever issues there are with the environment.”

Moose FM has reached out to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) on whether any updated assessments of Kam Lake are planned. We did not receive a response.

Information on contacting Testart can be found here, and ENR’s contact information can be found here.

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