Posted By Natalia Halec, FOR THE TIMES-JOURNAL
A press conference scheduled for this morning to discuss the divestiture of Port Stanley harbour will likely generate plenty of other questions, suggests Central Elgin Mayor Sylvia Hofhuis.
Recent concerns over the potential for toxins to quickly contaminate an intake system that supplies water to over 100,000 area residents have inspired sentiments cleanup of a toxic blob upstream in Kettle Creek be the first priority, rather than settling a harbour deal with Transport Canada.
The harbour is currently owned and operated by Transport Canada, but the municipality of Central Elgin has been engaged in formal negotiations to acquire it for at least four years.
Although the need for a cleanup of the harbour is an ongoing issue, Sun Media has reported a 2006 finding by Stantec Consulting that toxins such as arsenic, lead, mercury, coal tar and PCBs can reach the intake for the Lake Erie water system within two hours.
The consulting firm had been hired by the board of the Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System to investigate vulnerability issues and suggested an intake protection zone.
Central Elgin and London city officials, some of whom also sit on the board of the regional water system, say they had not been made aware of the threat.
After a meeting with Hofhuis and Transport Canada last Friday, Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Joe Preston said he doesn't expect the divestiture issue will be settled until risk assessment reports are undertaken and environmental issues understood.
Hofhuis will be speaking at the conference this morning and Preston will attend via speakerphone from Ottawa.
The conference was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the board room of the Elgin County Administration Building.