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Regina mayor says city will follow Health Canada guidelines with asbestos cement pipes


Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said the city will more than likely continue to follow Health Canada guidelines when it comes to asbestos cement pipes (ACP) that carry drinking water to residents’ homes.

Masters made the comments Tuesday, following a CTV News W5 investigation that revealed the city’s water utility system is still comprised of about 48 per cent ACP pipes.

“I don’t think I’ve been shy about an infrastructure deficit here at the city in terms of work being done,” Masters said. “I think that right now we follow Health Canada and so if Health Canada comes out and changes [guidelines], I think we methodically continue to replace and reline and do the work necessary.”

Mayor Masters believes that support from all levels of government will be needed in the case of replacing the infrastructure.

According to Health Canada, there is currently no consistent evidence drinking or ingesting asbestos is harmful.

There is also currently no maximum limit of asbestos that can be in Canadian drinking water.

According to a water test done by W5 at a Regina home near the site of a recent water main break, there were 370,000 asbestos fibers per litre in the drinking water supply.

The city initially said was the break was the result of an asbestos cement pipe failure.

According to the W5 investigation, the city later said they had provided the wrong information about the water main break shortly before the story was released.

The City of Regina said it has tested for asbestos fibers in water since 2016 and increased testing in 2020 and maintains it has never found asbestos in drinking water to date.

The city’s director of water, waste and environment Kurtis Doney, maintained that they have still not found asbestos fibers in Regina’s drinking water despite extensive testing in an interview with W5.

“To date, we have not found any asbestos fibers and Health Canada has clearly stated that there is no concerns with asbestos fibers in drinking water,” Doney told W5.

Doney said the City of Regina will continue to test for asbestos fibers in its drinking water but did not acknowledge W5’s findings of 370,000 asbestos fibers per litre in its independent test.

In an email sent to CTV News, Health Canada said it developed a technical document in 1989 for asbestos in drinking water. Health Canada said it then assessed new scientific data in 2009, 2013 and 2018, including studies evaluated by the Texas State Department of Health and the U.S. EPA.

Health Canada said its findings that drinking or ingesting asbestos is not hazardous are consistent with findings from other organizations around the world including, the World Health Organization and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.

“In Canada, responsibility for drinking water quality is shared between various levels of government. The principal responsibility of ensuring the safety of drinking water generally rests with the provinces and territories, while municipalities usually ensure the day-to-day operations of treatment facilities and distribution systems. Health Canada worked with the provinces and territories to develop the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality,” Health Canada said.

With files from CTV’s Eric Szeto. Top Stories

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