Marie-France Lalonde, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Honourable Bill Blair, has announced that the Government of Canada is committing to provide up to $15.5 million in funding to the City of Saguenay for a short-term solution to address the presence of poly- and perfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in the municipal water supply, in response to a request from the City of Saguenay.
As announced in July, during routine environmental monitoring work, PFAS were found at CFB Bagotville around the former firefighter training area on the southern side of the base, as well as near hangars, buildings, and water retention basins on the northern side of the base.
PFAS are manufactured chemicals used in a variety of consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foams. Out of an abundance of caution, we informed the City of Saguenay; the ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs; and the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec about the presence of PFAS on the base.
The Government of Québec and the City of Saguenay regulate municipal water and are responsible for setting PFAS guidelines for drinking water in the region. In addition to providing funding to the City of Saguenay, we will continue to monitor drinking water on the base and conduct other environmental studies over the coming months to determine if there is a link between the sources of PFAS on the base and those found at the property limits. The results of the studies, expected in spring 2024, will inform our next steps.
The Government of Canada is committed to working with the city and Government of Québec on this issue and will provide regular updates to the community as new information is available.
“We have a responsibility to work with cities and provinces to safeguard the health of Canadians – and that is exactly what we are doing with today’s investment. From day one, we have worked closely with the City of Saguenay to address this issue – and we will continue to collaborate with the city and Quebec to protect the health and safety of local residents.” – The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence
- PFAS have been found in surface water, sediment, soil, and groundwater on CFB Bagotville property. The presence of PFAS at CFB Bagotville is thought to be related to the past use of firefighting foams for training and operations. From 1972 until the early 2010s, DND conducted firefighter training with foam. These activities were conducted according to the accepted practices and regulations of the time.
- While water is now used for training, firefighting foams containing PFAS are still used for emergencies as they are the safest and most effective way to extinguish fuel fires. When used, we follow standardized procedures to try to contain the foams and minimize their impacts on the environment as much as possible.