Skip to Content
Download as PDF

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue 7 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 3, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans met this day at 7:03 p.m. to examine and report from time to time upon the matters relating to straddling stocks and to fish habitat.

Senator Gerald J. Comeau (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: We are continuing our examination of matters relating to straddling stocks and to fish habitat. Tonight we will focus on the subject of habitat. We have a number of witnesses who will be talking about ordnance and its impact on habitat and environment. I will ask Wanda Arnold, from the Waycobah First Nation to introduce her colleagues.

Ms. Wanda Arnold, Director of Operations, Waycobah First Nation: I would like to start by introducing my fellow colleagues: Chief Morley Googoo from Waycobah First Nation; Mr. Terry Long, a private consultant; Mr. Rick Hanoski from Human Factors Applications (HFA); and Dr. Jennifer Mokos from Alion Science and Technology. Thank you for the opportunity to present our concerns in respect of offshore munitions and their potential impact on our health and well-being. I would like to address the economic impact and importance of the fisheries and seafood to our First Nation communities in Cape Breton. I would also like to illuminate the magnitude of the issue of habitat protection and the consequences that will occur if swift and responsible action is not undertaken. Finally, I would like to emphasize that First Nations are stewards of the environment and provide an outline of our commitment to date on some issues.

Waycobah is a vibrant, progressive community of over 800 people, 49 per cent of whom are under the age of 29. We have the challenge of a younger, growing population and a responsibility to provide that population with opportunities to prosper and remain in our community. Our figures are similar to those of all First Nations, many of which rely on the ocean for economic stability. That stability is the key to survival for our First Nation.

Waycobah is involved in two industries: retail fuel/convenience and fishery. The fishery represents 35 per cent of our commercial revenues. These revenues are used to supplement our education, municipal and health care services that are not covered by our core funding agreements with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Revenues from fisheries represent our only other source of commercial income; therefore, any possible threat to fish habitats must be investigated.

You will hear about threats that are posed by off-shore munitions dumping sites. However, some of the threats to our fish habitats are not quite as obvious. Our Nation has been researching an invasive species known as the green crab, which was introduced to our shores more than 30 years ago. This species is responsible for the destruction of areas necessary for fish breeding and waterfowl use.

Preserving fish habitat has many challenges other than off-shore munitions, and we recognize that without addressing all of these areas, fish habitat will suffer regardless. Research on green crab work has presented us with situations similar to what we have seen in other areas of the world — for example, the rainforests in South America. We have discovered that within the green crab lies an important compound known as ``chitin,'' which has varying grades. The better grades of chitin are used in surgical applications to prevent post-operative adhesion of organs. There are lower grades that have shown promise for use in agricultural applications as organic alternatives to fungicides. These fungicides and pesticides have been responsible for the large fish kills in Prince Edward Island. Chitin may also be used in the remediation of heavy metals from soils and waters. The ocean holds many unknown answers to problems we face today. If fish habitat is not protected, many innovations may not be discovered.

From an economic standpoint, our work in this area has shown our community that within the traditional fisheries there are opportunities for knowledge-based careers. Our nation is proud to be at the forefront of such work and have the ability to participate in the larger Canadian and global economies. As our chief will indicate in his speech, the quality of life within our community is essential to maintaining the culture.

The five First Nations of Cape Breton have formed the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources, UINR. The institute provides environmental monitoring services. Funding for the institute is formed in part by contribution agreements from Georgia-Pacific for every tonne of rock that is mined in Cape Breton. The First Nations of Cape Breton have negotiated such agreements to assign resources to be able to look into environmental issues and concerns.

The futures of our young adults and children depend on our involvement in fisheries. Careers for scientists, researchers, plant managers, boat captains and fisheries require us to have healthy fish stocks. This is one area where our rural economy can compete and provide opportunities that will sustain our community.

Our involvement in fisheries and other environmental issues in Atlantic Canada has earned the First Nation a place in future decision-making with respect to fish habitat protection. We can provide valuable contributions and insights into these issues and we request that the committee recommend that First Nations be represented in further decision- making activities.

We commend the Senate and the Canadian government for their actions in recognizing the problems regarding the protection of the fish habitats and regarding munitions dump sites. As cited in The Globe and Mail on May 31, the Canadian government has contributed well over a billion dollars, but specifically $35 million in financial support to Russia to assist in creating, de-commissioning and chemical disposal sites. This clearly shows your commitment in facing challenges of ensuring the same protection and services will be provided in Canada.

We look forward to working together to protect the habitats and those who depend on the fish habitats for their very way of life.

Mr. Rick Hanoski, Division Manager, Human Factors Applications, Inc.: Munitions are a global problem throughout the world, both on sea and land. I will be addressing munitions in general — ordnance and unexploded ordnance.

As you can see from the slide of Australia and England there are a number of different dump sites throughout the world. Sites are now being identified off the coast of Canada as well. Munitions are divided into eight categories. I will not cover all of these. We are all familiar with missiles, bombs and projectiles. Those are the types of munitions that go into the seas and end up in dump sites. There are fuses that make munitions go off. They all perform functions based on different elements, time delays, shock sensitivity, powder burns, and even radar. You never know what is going to set these fuses off.

There are two types of ordnance and explosives: primary and secondary. Primary explosives are a lot more sensitive and these are the types that are in fuses. The idea is to get the fuse to go with the minimum amount of force. The ordnance hits the ground; the explosive will go off in the fuse. Lead azide is a good example of a primary explosive, which takes very small quantities. All explosives are sensitive to heat, shock and friction. Those are the elements that cause explosives to go off.

There are booster or auxiliary explosives and bursting explosives. The fuse that you see on the slide is a booster. Booster explosives include RDX, Tetryl, and PETN. It transmits force, heat, shock or friction into the main charge, which causes the munitions either to high order — in which case you have fragmentation — or to rupture. When there rupture, those munitions have a thinner case because you are not going after the effect of fragmentation flying through the air, what you are looking for is distributing the filler of that particular round or bomb or munitions.

Explosives react to a number or varying degrees depending on the material, the conditions of the storage, and the environment to which they are exposed. We have heard the story of dynamite sweating, where nitroglycerin comes out of the solution or solids. The next step would be crystallized nitroglycerin that would respond to shock and friction, which causes those things to go off. You would not want to step on it. This slide also shows some other examples of explosive reactivity, for example, when it mixes with seawater. There are many studies on corrosion — studies of UXO and munitions. Studies are being done on soil conditions that cause degradation to case munitions. If the pH is higher in some soils or in the water, it eats away at the munitions and causes leakage or increased sensitivity or detonation.

When you have this type of leakage or rupture in the round, the explosive will transfer to the environment. In land cases, it transfers to the soil and gets down into the groundwater. In ocean and water environments, it carries along with the currents. There is an example in the United States at a military range in Massachusetts where the explosives reached the groundwater. We are not talking about groundwater, but we are talking about the mitigation of the contaminant.

Explosives are nothing more than chemical compounds. Chemical compounds are not good for our health. When I was in the military handling C4, I was surprised to find out that C4 was a carcinogenic.

With respect to the sea dumps, we are primarily concerned about the fillers of the munitions. What was the munitions tactical use? Was it for fragmentation? Was it a bursting round —— in which case it would be white phosphorous? Was it bio-agents or chemical materials? Chemical materials include as Sarin; GB, a nerve gas; VX, a persistent nerve gas; mustard, which is a blistering agent; and Lewisite. These would be considered weapons of mass destruction or components thereof.

Dr. Jennifer Mokos, Division Manager, Chemical Technology, and Vice-President, Alion Science and Technology: What are the potential environmental impacts of munitions? I hope that the risk issues that I present will support not only our concern for the First Nation people, but also for the citizens of Canada, the environment and the marine ecosystem.

Let us discuss risk. What could happen? Two things could happen: We could have a major release, which would be on the order of minutes to hours. We could have a steady-state release, which would be on the time order of days to years. We could experiencing such a situation right now and not know it.

What could cause a release? Corrosion. Material could be corroded in an acidic environment or a salt-water environment. External events such as trawling, seismic disturbances, drilling — anything that could disturb a dump site — could cause a release.

What do these risks depend on? They depend on the type of chemical agent that has been released. For example, how soluble is that compound in water? Does it mix in well with water? Is it reactive with water? Does water destroy the chemical agent? In some cases, the answer is yes. It also depends on the persistence of the chemical in the aqueous environment and how well it can transport through the ecosystem. The bottom line is when you disturb a site you are going to increase your risk.

How can these chemical agents impact human health and safety? A Mitretek Systems report indicates that approximately 232,000 tonnes of chemical munitions were dumped by various countries into the Adriatic Sea and the Bari Harbour, Italy. These do not include sites in Australia, England, along the eastern coast of the United States, and around the coast of Nova Scotia.

Drs. Sivo and Lobunona of the University of Bari documented approximately 232 cases of exposures caused by HD, commonly known as mustard, due to clumps fisherman caught in their nets. They found approximately 42 per cent of the injuries occurred to hands, 32.5 per cent injuries to feet, and 27 per cent injuries to eyes. What is this? These are the symptoms the fisherman experienced due to the insolubility of mustard in water. It is caused by an exposure to the chemical agent.

Each agent may cause a variety of damage if a person is exposed. Staying with our example of HD, which is a blister agent. It causes painful blisters, which may not show up for 6 to 12 hours after exposure. Inhalation could cause respiratory distress and damage.

In the next slide, I have shown some of the chemical agents that may be in the Atlantic Ocean, the coast of Nova Scotia and the East Coast of the United States. The table shows which agents mix well with water, which is indicated by high solubility, their half-lives, and the by-products or decomposition products that may occur as a result of reaction with water. Some of these by-products may as toxic as the agents themselves. They could be carcinogenic. You may be familiar with some of these toxins such as cyanide, a decomposition from Tabune, GA, which is a nerve agent; as well as arsenic, a by-product of Lewisite in water. Cyanide and arsenic are both part of rat poison.

The next three slides provide some background information.. The first includes definitions for toxicity terms that you may hear during your study. They also apply to toxicity studies on marine life. For example, slide 21 shows the results from a study where three types of fish were exposed to concentrations of the nervous agent GB when it is present in water. At 50 parts per million, a fairly dilute concentration, a minnow can last for less than one minute in water that is contaminated with GB.

This will depend on the type and the size of the fish, the concentration of the chemical agent in the environment of the fish, the temperature of the water and other factors. As less GB is present, the minnow can last up to about 360 minutes in a contaminated area. This is considered dilute because we are at 0.01 parts per million. These fish eventually died. Even in dilute solutions — it may take a little longer — the death of the fish would result in decreased fish stocks.

The next slide provides more of the same sort of toxicity data. When sunfish were exposed to mustard, it killed about 22 out of 30 fish over a one-month period — a death rate of approximately a 73 per cent. These small studies, put together can make an impact and show the effects on the ecosystem. This is dependent on the concentration and type of agent, and size and type of the fish that is exposed.

What would this mean in real—life terms? If a dump site is disturbed enough to cause some sort of release, it could decrease the fish stock by approximately 70 per cent. This is just an example of what some of the outcomes could be. Decomposition products contribute to this depletion in the fish stocks.

The next three slides show a pictorial representation of what a leak or release would look like. They have been simulated using air models; however, they can be applied to ocean currents and other systems. This pictorial representation shows a contaminated plume moving throughout the general area. The most toxic or lethal region is towards the bottom left hand of the screen. That is closest to the source of where the release is taking place. It will decrease over time and space to lower toxicity regions.

The next slide shows the plume movement that is dependent upon an ocean current. A faster, strong current would result in a spread of contamination quickly and over a larger region, exposing more of the ecosystem or anything in its way to contamination. It is similar to an oil spill. You may have seen the Exxon Valdez spill and how slowly the plume travelled and deposited along top of the ocean. However, this is a chemical agent, so it is more lethal and toxic.

This last slide shows how these issues affect the marine food chain? This is a documented example from the Arctic Sea. In the case of a release, the bottom dwellers and smaller fish will be affected first. Therefore, the source of food for the larger fish will be decreased significantly. Larger fish may live longer because of their size and tolerance. However, they could die over time, as we saw with the dilute agent concentrations study and the sunfish being able to live for up to 360 minutes. They could also increase their toxicity levels. If a person eats a fish that has been contaminated or contains toxic products, that person could either fall ill — or if the fish was exceptionally toxic — or die.

Last, unknowing fisherman may find insoluble chemical agents in their nets. They can be exposed without realizing until hours later that they came in contact with a chemical agent as a result of a dump site being disturbed. In a worst- case scenario, we could be in shallow waters where a chemical agent or munitions has been released and washed up onto a beach, exposing people who may not realize this until many hours later. The outcome would be catastrophic.

As a chemical agent scientist, I take exceptional precautions when working in the laboratory, as does our staff. I know how harmful and dangerous exposure could be.

In summary, these issues must be addressed for safety reasons and for the well being of the First Nations people, the Canadian people, and the marine environment, which provides a livelihood.

Mr. Terrance Long, Consultant for Hazardous Management and Disposal: The problem of sea-dumped chemical munitions has been known to occur in every ocean of the world. Some sites can be found on both the east and west coasts of Canada, including sites off Cape Breton such as Sydney Bight.

Most sea-dumped chemical munitions started after World War I and carried throughout World War II and the Cold War. This practice continued up to the 1970s, when world governments began to understand the impact these dumps created on environment and the marine ecosystems. NATO sponsored a conference on sea-dumped chemical weapons in 1996, and discussed their fear of major releases of chemical agents being leaked in to the sea around 2005.

Beyond the immediate impact of the future depletion of the world's endangered fish stocks, poisonous agents will enter the food chain via plankton. Toxic effects with possible genetic consequences would not be confined to countries of the region, but become a world concern.

Over the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to work nationally and internationally in munitions and chemical remediation. I have worked with subcontractors for the Department of National Defence, the United Nations, and governments around the world. As a native of Cape Breton, these issues of habitat protection are important to me.

After attending public hearings in Wagmatcook, Nova Scotia regarding offshore oil and gas exploration for the province, a guest speaker presented information on sea-dumped munitions. Perhaps unknowingly, the presenter created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear in the community members attending the hearings.

With this in mind, I continued researching sites off the coast of Nova Scotia and contacted the stakeholders. A cohesive approach is needed with the stakeholders and a forum to hear the concerns. I contacted the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the protection of habitat.

To begin addressing these issues from a proactive standpoint, without creating public concern, I would like to present a few slides of our vision of moving forward.

Before any activities commence on a dump site, you must first develop an information management system and determine how that information will be collected and processed; it is a very important first step to stem the leakage or loss of information. Canada, with a number of separate internal agencies, requires a central depository to coordinate and manage information that could enable government ministries and agencies to interact and determine priorities. Working groups or entities developed to manage or assist should include all stakeholders. The sites should no longer be the sole responsibility of the Department of National Defence, considering how important our rivers, lakes and oceans are to our existence.

Non-intrusive marine surveys should be carried out over the affected areas employing a number of difference techniques, which can vary in costs. Fusion techniques such as the combination of side scan sonar, electromagnetic detectors, magnetometers and underwater television monitors could identify most anomalies and assist in future investigation.

An intrusive investigation is an important component in understanding what is taking place and the full scope of any present or future problem.

This issue has not been given comprehensive analysis. Sea-dumped munitions are not covered under the Chemical Weapons Convention or any other treaty. The problem has been neglected internationally for a long time. Only recently has official data been made available from countries that admitted conducting dumping operations.

Chief Morley Googoo, Waycobah First Nation: You have been presented with information regarding the severity of offshore munitions sites, the ecological effects on habitat in the ocean, the economic dependency of First Nations — as well as all costal communities — upon the seafood industry. I would like to extend our appreciation as a nation for being invited to express our views along side this expert panel on an issue vital to our communities.

In 2001, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans held a series of public consultations conducted by the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review. The consultations were intended to gather input from all stakeholders in the Atlantic fisheries. At the time, our nation voiced our concern through a boycott of consultations. Two years later, I am here to express our views through active participation.

Our nation has always been connected to the water and to the benefits it provides. The association is reflected in the name of our community, Waycobah, meaning ``head of the water.'' Historically, the preservation of our culture depends on the ocean and the economic vitality of the industries supported by it. Through development of the traditional industry to include new industries, we are able to encourage our children to seek higher education and return to our community ensuring continued growth. By providing an opportunity to obtain a better quality of life and improve a feeling of self worth, our community is empowered to maintain the pride in our culture and foster its growth. This is what the ocean, the fish habitat, and the fish industry mean to our nation. That is why we have chosen to participate in the resolution of this problem.

The Department of National and Defence and the federal government are responsible for the decisions to introduce these toxins to the ecosystem. Upon learning of the problem, we were faced with some alternatives. One would have been to protest loudly and seek to assign responsibility for creation of the problem and generate fear among our communities. The other, which we have chosen, was to acknowledge the problem and become educated with problems surrounding the problem to enable us to be included in any further decisions regarding fish habitat and conservation.

First Nations have a unique understanding for the connectivity of all elements of the ecosystem. We are aware that what is affecting the oceans will effect the in-land waterways and the dependent ecosystem. I speak here today representing all First Nations and request that the senate put forward a recommendation that First Nations and all stakeholders of the ocean environment be included in future decision making of fish habitat.

Although we welcome the participation of the Department of National Defence, to leave sole responsibility for resolution of the problem with this one group would exclude those who have the greatest dependency on the resource. The future of the Department of National Defence is not directly linked to the resolution of offshore munitions sites; our nation's is.

We feel that the following recommendations should be considered and endorsed by the senate. First, acknowledgement by the federal government and the Department of National Defence of the existence of all offshore munitions sites and the severity of the problems proposed by these sites. Second, commitment of significant long — term financial and scientific resources to address these sites. Third, a commitment by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to assist expediently in resolving the introduction of invasive species responsible for fish habitat destruction. Fourth, the recognition that this is a global issue and that an international approach is required to ensure protection of fish habitant in Canadian waters. Finally, we ask for inclusion of First Nations and other stakeholders in the decision — making process.

Thank you on behalf of our nation.

The Chairman: Thank you. This has been an impressive presentation this evening.

Senator Phalen: The situation looks like a disaster waiting to happen. What would be the likely risk of fishermen disturbing these sites and are there any restrictions in these areas?

Ms. Arnold: It is just not the fisherman that could disturb the sites. With Nova Scotia signing one of the first off — shore natural gas agreements, one of the challenges that they have is related to environmental assessments. Some of the assessments have shown that some of the leasehold sites are in areas that there are dumping sites. It affects not just our fishermen, not just our way of life, but potential industry and other jobs to all sectors of Cape Breton.

Mr. Hanoski: I do not know that those areas have been restricted for use or if they appear on navigational charts as hazards, but munitions, unexploded chemical, high explosives have a tendency to travel. I worked on a job in Maryland at Assateague Island. That dump site had conventional weapons. It was out to sea by a couple of miles and it ended up on the shore. A core of engineers did the clean up.

If you have a munitions dump site — and the contaminants can travel in all directions except up — you need to define the borders of where the contamination is. If your investigation indicates a potential hazard or that you need to progress to the next step, at that point you can implement engineering controls. You can make navigational recommendations to stay out of this area or regulate the area so there are no intrusive activities there until it is dealt with.

Senator Phalen: Is it possible to clean it up?

Mr. Hanoski: Anything is possible. They are going down deep these days. You would have to do it remotely. Water depth is the limiting factor. If it could be reached by divers, that would not be a problem. It could be reached with trudges and remote means.

Mr. Long: Sydney Bight is believed to be approximately five kilometres in diameter and in 60 metres in water. It is close to the surface. The deepest depth by divers is 440 metres for clearance of these munitions.

Senator Phalen: Where is the location of the mustard gas?

Mr. Long: In the archives, I saw a lot of information and maps that clearly identified sites off of Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada. My understanding is that the Department of National Defence is conducting an historical review to collect all of that information and build a basic database. The Department of National Defence has recognized some sites. They have said there are other sites but have not disclosed where they are. They believe they are too deep and no interference can take place in those areas.

Senator Phalen: What is the mustard gas contained in?

Mr. Long: Some of them were contained in drums, munitions. A historical review would have to be done and carried out in detail in Canada and in the United States, because material was dumped from Argentia, Newfoundland.

Senator Phalen: Is there a test to indicate how long corrosion would cause that drum to leak?

Mr. Long: A number of things that have been done. You have to look at the pH levels within the dump site. You have to do some scientific testing on each area.

Senator Phalen: Have some of the munitions been there since the Second World War?

Mr. Long: Yes, right up to the 70s. If you can imagine them degrading, there would be a difference from one year to the other, again depending on the pH.

Mr. Hanoski: I am involved in an effort right now on chemical warfare materials, CWM, rounds. We will be removing shipping plugs and figuring out ways to handle them. After we remove those plugs, we have to do air monitoring instantly to find out whether or not corrosion has caused a leakage inside the rounds. These are munitions that are sitting in dry storage, controlled magazines and they are leaking like sieves. If something is 60 metres in saltwater, you can imagine the corrosion and the pressure involved on the outer casings that would occur.

Senator Hubley: On a global perspective, have countries kept track of where these dumps are? Do you have an idea of where they are, or do you have to detect them in some other way? Do you have to wait until you have a problem?

What is the amount of research that is taking place with respect to these munitions sites that you know about? Is it done in Canada? Is it done in other parts of the world? What progress is being made from a scientific standpoint?

Ms. Mokos: In the United States I know that some of the data I gathered for the presentation was dated. It was in the archives from the Department of Defence, but it was very broad. For example, it identified what ship was passing through what particular area off the coast anywhere in the northern part of the United States and dumped ``X'' amount of containers and munitions into the ocean at a particular place. However, one has to keep in mind that the ship was cruising along and it has not been well documented.

We have a general idea of where these things were dumped years ago. That raises the question: If you throw a tree branch into the water and it sinks to the bottom of the ocean on Monday, is it still going to be at that spot on Friday? Although we have some documentation that is vague, do we know where they are at or where they have gone in that time frame? I would have to say that the answer is no.

Mr. Long: In 1996, the NATO Scientific and Environmental Affairs Division was looking at that with a group from Russia. There were a number of scientists from the United States, Russia, and some European countries worked together —that is where the year 2005 came up as a concern.

With respect to how much research is being down at this particular time, I do not think there are any developments from country to country. It seems as if the whole thing has dropped off the map.

Ms. Arnold: With respect to your question about the types of research being done in Canada, I hope that is one of the things we are here to talk about tonight; that it is our intention to ask for assistance and guidance on this issue because it is of concern.

We are seeing things in our newspapers that show diagrams of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton and locations where there are unexploded ordnances and piles of munitions. We are a group of people that rely on the ocean for our way of life. This is one of the things we would like to speak to.

One of things we would like to do is have access to Alion Technology, Ms. Mokos, Human Factors Applications (HFA), and various other stakeholders within Cape Breton. Perhaps we could look at putting a research program together to research and identify where everything is dumped. We could find out what is there, how much is dumped there, and report back to you with the information so that the government and stakeholders could make recommendations from the research. We could move from a position of fear-mongering and to a position of knowledge. That is one of the solutions that we are looking at, too, in coming to speak with you tonight.

Senator Hubley: You have established that by 2005 there is going to be some critical, environmental problem arising from these sites. Do you have any evidence now that this is happening? Do you have any area where you know that fish stocks have declined because of these munitions sites or that there has been some drastic impact on the environment in those areas? Can you monitor that now? Is anybody monitoring these sites?

Ms. Mokos: 2005 is an estimate. We have a general knowledge as to where the dump sites are, however, things change and there are many factors involved. Some of the things that have been pointed out in the literature include unexplained blisters on different types of fish that fisherman are noticing over time.

Has there been a study on certain types of fish that have a direct correlation with dump sites? The answer is no. There have been some general studies such as the one by Mitretek Systems in the Adriatic Sea area. They reported that it is very difficult to correlate those two things together because there is not a good history of what is there. They did some research into the background of where these dump sites were around the Adriatic Sea, but never had an opportunity to go in with instrumentation and find out whether there are and what the conditions are.

Although this may seem like a scary, risky matter right now, a phase-one approach to evaluate the area and assess the risk that is associated with the areas may indicate that there is not much risk at all and there is no need to worry about the fish stock.

However, we would not know that until they found out where the chemical sites were.

Senator Cook: There are nights when I sit here and despair that there are no fish to eat. Tonight I am wondering if there were a fish to eat would it be fit.

Notwithstanding ocean tide and drift, what governmental body is responsible for dumping? Do you require a permit to dump?

Mr. Long: My understanding is that the dumping was conducted by the Department of National Defence. There has been no dumping since the mid 70s.

Senator Cook: Is there a way to track that through the system and access that data?

Mr. Long: Yes, there is. Through historical data from the National Defence, the archives and other sources as well.

Senator Cook: I grew up on the southwest coast of Newfoundland not far from Argentia. There were horror stories of what the Americans left behind. The theory is that they dumped nuclear into the bay. For a period of time, the fishermen were catching blue lobster, fluorescent lobster and so forth. I would suggest that the Department of Foreign Affairs be involved in this.

Mr. Long: If you want to bring it to the international level then perhaps foreign affairs would have to be involved.

Senator Cook: Was it not the Americans who dumped waste into Placentia Bay with their naval station in Argentia?

Mr. Long: My understanding is they went out past the 12-mile limit into international waters.

Senator Cook: Now it is in the 200-mile limit?

Mr. Long: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Cook: If my memory serves me correctly, it seems that the American government left and the Canadian government tried to do something about it. Is that correct?

Ms. Arnold: If you recall the clean up at the DEW Line sites across the Canadian Artic. I spent ten years up there and travelled the DEW Line sites and worked with the Canadian and American military to make sure the soil was cleaned up. There was an incredible amount of chemical waste buried in the soils, underneath the tundra and in ice that I have seen excavated and taken out by barge and helicopter.

It was interesting that the scientists in the Canadian Arctic were able to relate some of the leakage of those items to some of the challenges that were experienced in the marine mammals and the life. That was a challenge for health concerns because the Inuit culture consumed the food of the land. Therefore when we know what was hidden and found up in the Arctic, we can only imagine the things that were dumped into a limitless ocean that need to be identified.

Senator Cook: The Bedford Institute of Oceanography, BIO, is doing a lot of mapping of the ocean floor. They brought some thing out of the mouth of the Bras d'Or Lakes. They were dredging there last year. Do you have any details with respect to that?

Ms. Arnold: They were working with us. BIO is one of our partners in the green crab study that we talked about. In the Bras d'Or Lakes, they were working with the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources to do sampling of roe and of crustaceans because of the MSX problems with the oysters. They were trying to determine a lot of different things, and are still in the process of doing a lot of testing. They are working with St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, to further some of the testing.

Senator Cook: It seems to me that the first order of business would be to find out where those sites are and to make a determination how to access them.

Ms. Arnold: Exactly.

Senator Cook: I guess we are lucky that a dragger has not disrupted one of those sites — or maybe they have?

Ms. Arnold: Or an off-shore oil and gas footprint that wants to do a seismic activity to test a drilling site has not to set one it off. We are lucky about that, too.

Senator Cook: Can anyone go out there, pick up a map and say we will not go into this quadrant because there is a risk; we will go into this one?

Mr. Long: We know where some of the sites are. We know that the one in Sydney, which is in shallow waters, is scheduled for seismic in the next few months.

Senator Cook: There is work being done on identifying these sites?

The Chairman: Is that the one at Sydney Bight?

Mr. Long: Yes.

Senator Cook: Having found them, is there any way to know what material went down there at what time?

Mr. Long: We can find a lot of that information through the archives. We can find out if fuses were separated, how they were packed, if they were in crates and a lot of other additional information that will provide indicators on the condition of the munitions and where they might be now. Some of the munitions have been known not to sink right away and drift along with currents and tides.

Senator Cook: Is there work being done now or are you advocating that this work should begin?

Mr. Long: There is work being done now. The Department of National Defence is conducting a historical review. We feel it should include more stakeholders and it should be a cooperative approach, especially when you consider that the Department of National Defence created the pollution. Right now they have budgetary control and restrictions, and they have to determine just how much will be cleaned up based on budgets.

This issue is large enough that I believe it is going to involve a lot more stakeholders to address it adequately.

Senator Cook: Do we have any evidence-based information that those sites are impacting on habitat?

Mr. Long: We are saying that we believe a lot of things are taking place, but we do not have that scientific information. We are advocating that we go out and get that information.

Senator Cook: You mentioned the DEW Line, did you do any work along the Labrador Coast, where the LORAN stations were, because I have heard that was the most polluted of all.

Ms. Arnold: Yes, it was one of the most polluted. Unfortunately, when I went over to Labrador it was not one of the sites at which I worked. I was focused on the sites in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Senator Cook: You were not in the Saglek or anywhere along there?

Ms. Arnold: No.

Senator Watt: Welcome. I had some experience dealing with an area you just highlighted, the DEW Line. When I was a teenager, I worked for the Federal Electric Corporation for the United States Air Force. I know all the 13 burial sites of those contaminants in the DEW Line, because one of my responsibilities at that time was to get up when everybody was sleeping — three o'clock in the morning — fire up the tractor and bury all of those contaminants.

I always thought they would surface at some point, and they have. No one knew how the containments affected human beings. I began some research, using the senate money, to find out exactly what is the cost of all those people dying with no clear indication of what they are dying from.

We did a study to describe where those burial sites are, because I know them personally. Sure enough, the communities closest to those sites were the most affected. Their people were dying from cancer, from stomach problems — all kinds of things. That information still has not been brought to the forefront. I have a thick text that of information for which I hope to find a home one day.

Is dumping still going on today, or are you only worried about accumulated effect right now?

Mr. Long: I have no knowledge that it is going on today. We are worried about the accumulated effect.

Senator Watt: This is criminal. You are putting toxins into food sources. The food that is consumed by humans will have an accumulated effect. It can eventually kill people. It is happening to the people in the high Artic near the DEW Line burial sites.

Is there a way to find a home for these contaminants? Can we put pressure on the government that this should not be dealt with lightly? It must be rectified immediately.

Ms. Arnold: It is amazing to meet somebody who had to participate in the things you talked about. I thank you for sharing your story.

It is important to gather knowledge. We need research and assistance to build databases, conduct research, access archives, correlate the information on the dumping sites, and identify what, where, when, and how long to put into one report. You could incorporate the information that you mentioned as well, because you have identified the sites, you could access the regional health information from the database standpoint.

The ability to do that from a position of knowledge — and having the knowledge that each of you have asked for — and put it all together would allow you to make more informed decisions and allow us to chart out a course of action.

There is a multitude of stakeholders, and I think the opportunity and the timing is upon us to be able to research these opportunities.

Senator Watt: Do you know how long it would take to collect all of this information so that action could be taken?

Mr. Long: The ability to collect information relates to the amount of resources available to put at it. There have been some statements that it is going to be three to seven years to collect this information. I do not think it will take that long.

If you put together a small team and started hitting all the areas — the archives, different source information including mapping and so forth — then you would be able to put something together in about 6 to 12 months. It all comes down to resources and funding.

Ms. Mokos: One of the later stages in a full-blown investigation would be to determine if there is contamination in various areas. First, we need to identify where these area are. Second, we must determine what the risk is: Are they leaking? Is there contamination in the surrounding area? Look at whether the marine life has increased or decreased over time, mutations, and health effects and people on the coast and so on.

However, instead of going in as a chemistry project, one could probably take another turn and try to do some simulation or modelling instead of jumping in and pulling samples, which could become very costly. There are many models and simulations as the ones I showed you with plumes in air and in water, which might be able to help us determine which sites we should focus on. Is there an increased risk on one or the other? Most of those models are in place already. It is just a matter of gathering the data and compiling it.

Senator Watt: You have mentioned the departments of health, environment, and fisheries and oceans. What other departments have to be involved? Do you have a list?

Mr. Long: I will put the slide showing our proposed working group back up. You can see that the others include the Department of National Defence and the First Nations. The Department of Natural Resources, for example, would be responsible for wetlands. Many wetlands across the country are polluted with unexploded ordnances and munitions.

It is important to involve all these stakeholders to develop synergies and to ensure that information is not lost between external agencies. When you start the process, all the stakeholders have to come together and look at how it is going to unfold and to ensure that all interests are looked after.

Senator Watt: Why was the Health Department excluded from the list?

Mr. Long: This list is only a sample of some of the agencies we should look at. There are probably more stakeholders that should be considered.

Senator Watt: Will you provide the committee with a full list of the stakeholders at some point?

Mr. Long: We would be prepared to do that.

Senator Adams: Thank you for coming. I am from Nunavut. I saw the DEW Line the first time I got a job from the Government of Canada. After a year, I ended up in Churchill, Manitoba on the main DEW Line site. I will never forget that. It did not stop for 24 hours a day. The American Air Force was flying equipment up there.

Last year, Senator Comeau and I went from Resolute up to Coppermine, which took five days. In Coppermine, we met a lot of scientists from other countries. There were not too many Canadians, but most of them from Europe and the United States.

Right now, we are concerned about contamination of our country food up North — especially the sea mammals. I do not know exactly which way the current goes — mostly from Europe to Canada, I think. Do you have any other idea as to how the contaminants are getting into the water in the Arctic?

Ms. Arnold: When we were looking at some of the issues to do with Nunavut, it appeared that they had done many studies on the air quality and the air flow. They did not talk much about the water flow. There were all those pollutants that were coming up from the Eastern Seaboard that were found in the seals and other traditional food sources.

They kept finding a lot of those things were apparent in all the waterfowl life that was coming up there. That raised concerns regarding the ingestion of those animals as country food to the people and they started to track the health concerns in relation to that. The sea mammals were the bottom feeders and they were being affected in the whole food chain. However, I know most of the research done in Nunavut did centre on the air flow and the sea mammals.

Ms. Mokos: It is not in my area of expertise. However, Mitretek Systems report, which is where diagram I showed you earlier came from, there have been studies that have correlated pollution and water flow and things of that sort, especially around that area. If the research was done it can easily be found in the literature.

I have some citations from that report that indicate there have been some studies. To pull out the correlations that we are looking for, we may have to tie some of those studies together and look at all the data at one time. If it is in the literature, it is very easily pulled out.

Senator Adams: Have you heard any information regarding Bill C-10 that we passed about a year ago, with respect to protecting the environment?

Mr. Long: No, I have not.

Senator Adams: The scientists that Senator Comeau and I met last summer were studying permanent ice to see how many contaminants might be held there. I do not know when we will see the results of that study.

Senator Watt mentioned the burial sites near the DEW Line. I heard that DND will be monitoring these sites for 20 or 30 years to see if anything is leaking out. Is it safe where they are covering up this material?

Ms. Arnold: Are you talking about the pits in Cambridge Bay?

Senator Adams: No, I was in Pelly Bay last summer.

Ms. Arnold: Unfortunately, I have not heard any thing further. I have been in Nova Scotia for the past year and a half so my knowledge in reference to that is dated.

Up until they were mediating Cambridge Bay and they were doing some work in Resolute and Tuktoyaktuk, there was a multitude of different issues and it got confusing to try to follow what was being done. Our task was to ensure they followed their timeline in their contract work.

Senator Mahovlich: You mentioned the Adriatic Sea as a large munitions dump, but you never mentioned Russia.

Last year, I attended the Artic conference in Tromsø, Norway. They talked about the big dump in Novosibirsk, Russia. They have given the Russians millions of dollars to clean it up.

Do you know anything about it? Are they relating some of their experiences with respect to munitions dumping? They probably have atomic subs that they have sunk in there. Do we have any information about that?

Ms. Mokos: We have a contract to assist the Russians as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention; however it is not an ocean dump, it is a land dump. They have stockpiles of various munitions in which they are taking chemical means to destroy. We have been tasked to go in and help.

The United States has many sites that have to be decreased of the chemical weapon or chemical munitions by approximately 2007.

Senator Mahovlich: You are talking about land sites, correct?

Ms. Mokos: These are land sites, correct. Our stockpiles have to be eliminated by 2007 as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We are assisting Russia. My experience is in aiding the Russians in their land demilitarization.

Mr. Long: In respect of the size of the dump in Russia, NATO scientists have said that three times the existing arsenal from the United States and Russia has already been dumped in the oceans of the world.

Senator Mahovlich: No wonder there is no cod in the oceans.

Mr. Long: Senator, in response to your earlier question, you can only make an assumption there.

The Chairman: I have a press clipping from last November 27, 2002. The beginning of the clipping says, ``Some 270,000 tonnes of hazardous World War II chemical weapons dumped in the Baltic Sea could cause a `maritime Chernobyl'...'' This information was relayed by a senior Russian official, human rights ombudsman Oleg Mironov. It also says, ``Russian scientists have previously warned that a deep sea dump of Nazi chemical weapons threatened to pollute the North Sea and the Baltic.'' The article goes on to say that, ``The question ought to be studied by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and NATO.''

It falls in with what was Mr. Long said, that this should be brought to the attention of the United Nations. It is more than just a single-nation problem; it is an international problem.

Mr. Long: You are correct in that assertion. This issue is too big for one country to look at. Maybe this is an opportune time for Canada to talk to the United Nations through the Department of Foreign Affairs and perhaps host an international conference on these dump sites.

In order to reduce the effect, it is going to have to a collective effort, not only within Canadian but also throughout the world with all the stakeholders.

The Chairman: I have an article from the Hamilton Spectator dated June 3, 2003, that says:

300,000 tonnes of weapons confiscated by the allies were dumped between 1945 and 1947. The toxic stockpiles include approximately 65,000 tonnes of mustard gas, nerve agent sarin and the notorious death camp gas, Zyclon B.

In this report, they mention that occasionally they would place these chemicals or ordnances in a vessel, thinking that it would be better to dump the whole boat together. This is actually worse because if anything happens to release or detonate the ordnances, all of it would be released at the same time.

I would assume that in the case of a vessel containing this kind of ordnance, we should try to lift or remove it or control it somehow. However, what about ordnances and munitions that are lying on the ocean floor. It does not seem practical to remove it. I assume that you are proposing that we identify those areas and chart these areas and create ``no-trawl'' zones so that fisherman will know where they are and hope for the best that once they are released it will not get into the food chain. Am I reading this correctly?

Mr. Hanoski: I would suggest a sampling protocol over some time to ensure that there is no leak or an event. Yes, you are correct.

The Chairman: If some of the chemicals that do leak into the water environment get into the food chain, either through the plankton or the fish, is it possible that this may cause mutations in the fish and be carried on to future generations, or is that a worry I should not have?

Ms. Mokos: It would depend on how concentrated the sample has been. For example, if you have a material that has been intact and slowly corroding away, the chances that you are going to increase the toxicity in a short period is very small. However, if you find an area that is contaminated or has a leaking munitions or barrel, your toxicity effects will be enhanced. The type and degree of mutation in a stock would depend on the compound that is being released or leaching out of the material.

The Chairman: Would the insolubles that remain as clumps stay down on the ocean floor or would they go up into the water column?

Ms. Mokos: It would depend. In a fairly calm area, I would anticipate that they would lie along the ocean floor or not float to the surface.

The Chairman: It is when fish are being dragged that this material gets mixed into the net, correct? When they haul up their nets, the fisherman could be lifting something toxic, bring it onboard the vessel and it would probably react with the air?

Ms. Mokos: Correct.

The Chairman: In some cases, I would assume that the chemicals might have a strange reaction with the air?

Ms. Mokos: Most people have the impression that these chemical agents are in the gaseous state. In fact, most of the chemical agents are in liquid form when they are stored in these containers. The chemical agent starts out as a liquid and vaporizes upon detonation.

Senator Phalen: I have a cottage on Christmas Island in the Bras d'Or Lakes. You mentioned that you had been doing some investigation in the in the Bras d'Or Lakes and that there was a concern with oysters. Is there a problem site in that area?

Ms. Arnold: No. I was referring to BIO and their testing in the Bras d'Or Lakes; I indicated that BIO had been working with us doing some testing. One of the things BIO was looking at was the MSX problem. Is this related to any challenges in the Bras d'Or Lakes system? I could not answer that without the appropriate testing.

Are there problems in the Bras d'Or Lakes? I think we know that there are. It is great that the stakeholders are working on that. You are probably aware of some maps that have been circulating in Cape Breton that pinpoint a couple of dumping sites in the Bras d'Or Lakes. The maps need to be verified, researched and looked at until we could make a definitive answer.

Senator Phalen: You are scaring me.

Ms. Arnold: We do not want to scare you. As Mr. Long said, some proponents have been creating fear. We do not want to act from a position of fear. We suggest that we work from a position of knowledge. Fear will not going to solve anything. We have come here to say that we want to work together with the stakeholders and the First Nations. Our chief can speak more about the responsibilities and how we need to work together to deal with this. We need to be proactive.

Senator Watt: You mentioned that this is an international matter. Do you know which countries may be more active than the other in terms of being concerned to what they have been doing over the years?

Mr. Long: I know there are some sites being cleaned up in the United States. I was the program manager at Mare Island naval shipyards in California. For many years, it was a shipyard where a lot of munitions were being dumped. However, that particular site is being cleaned up.

I was limited in the amount of research and resources I had in order to follow this program, therefore I do not have a lot of information on what other countries are doing with respect to chemical munitions. That is something we will have to include in our thought process.

Senator Watt: You mentioned that you would like to work with the proper people and authorities. What kind of a budget is required for the first year of operations if you get the permission from the government authorities?

Mr. Long: If you would allow us the opportunity to go back and discuss it and then actually present something at a later date. We would work together, look at that issue and put something together. We are not comfortable throwing out a dollar figure because it is too important an issue to look at.

Ms. Mokos: We do have some excellent ideas from a program standpoint. I would suggest that a written proposal with a cost estimate would be more beneficial for everyone.

Ms. Arnold: The proposal would have include for intrusive and non-intrusive testing stages, research, archives and dealing with the Department of National Defence and correlating information. In the first phase, we would pull together the information you would need upon which to base a risk assessment and decide whether to move on to further phases.

Senator Hubley: Mr. Long, you have experience in the explosive ordnance disposable program. If we were able to identify a site and we were able to retrieve some of that safely, what do we do with it?

Mr. Long: Ms. Mokos could answer part of the question on the chemistry side. There would have to be some scientific investigation into that.

With respect to the munitions side of it, you would want to know what it is and how fast it is degrading in that type of environment. Additional activities would include intrusive sampling to see what is going on in the seabed.

It is important to know the threshold of each of the constitutions that is in these munitions. A 155 millimetre round — which is approximately two feet — can penetrate between 1.9 and 4 metres through the seabed. An area such as Sydney Bight is approximately five miles in diameter and there could very well be a lot of munitions embedded in the seabed, layer upon layer. If the agent is, for example, lead azide, you want to know what is the mechanical pressure or the threshold that it takes to set off lead azide under those environmental conditions? Will seismic at 240DB set that off in 60 metres of water? Those are considerations in some of the scientific studies that have to be looked at to determine exactly what the risks are associated with the munitions.

In an area where there are a lot of munitions, if one goes off, it could sympathetically detonate the rest of the munitions and create a catastrophic event. There could be a catastrophic event off our waters right now and we would not even know it took place.

Senator Mahovlich: Has there been dumping on the West Coast along Seattle and Vancouver and up to Prince Rupert?

Mr. Long: There has been some dumping on the West Coast. There are 45,000 tonnes of CW on the West coast of  British Columbia. As for the rest of the Western Seaboard, I would not be able to answer that. On the Eastern Seaboard, there are sites from Newfoundland right down to Florida.

Mr. Googoo: There are four important human factors that prevent issues such as this from being discussed: fear, negligence, ignorance and anger.

However, we cannot ignore the responsibilities and liabilities. As First Nations, we have been under a new regime of self-governance for the past 50 years. We have not done a perfect job because we have had to adapt to the change. After 50 years, we have leadership and we have adapted and adjusted. We are active stakeholders. We feel that there is more input needed by First Nation communities. We have developed partnerships through the years and will continue to do that.

The longer we delay in dealing with these issues, the greater the potential disaster in the future. We should act today before it is too late. We came here to bring this issue to your attention so we can start to resolve the problem.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee I would like to thank you for an informative evening. Thank you for sharing your experience, knowledge and expertise with us. This information will be helpful as we progress through the study on fish habitat. Your group has given us a sobering evening of information.

We appreciate that you are asking us to approach this issue as you do — rationally rather than emotionally. That message came out loud and clear and it is a positive message.

The committee continued in camera