UPDATE: No fluoride, for now, in Cornwall water

Published on June 25, 2014
Drinking water

CORNWALL, Ontario - For more than two months Cornwall water has been without fluoride, and it looks like it could be a couple of more weeks before the chemical is put back.

Coun. Syd Gardiner let it slip, on purpose, during a city council meeting Monday night that the city stopped adding fluoride to the water early this spring.

The reason lies in concerns the city has about the worker safety when it comes to the building where the chemical additives are stored.

City CAO Norm Levac was not available for comment to explain the specifics of the decision, but Gardiner said worker safety is a concern.

"There needs to be proper ventialtion and they need to be able to put masks on in case there's a spill," he said. "It's a worker safety issue, and that's a priority for me."

But over the last couple of weeks Gardiner was getting miffed because he was unable to get an update on when the fluoride, which is added to drinking water to battle tooth decay, would be returned.

Gardiner was told in a meeting Wednesday morning it would be two more weeks.

"I was somewhat upset I wasn't getting any answers," he said.

John St. Marseille, Cornwall's manager of municipal works, said Monday night the city is working as quickly as it can.

"We have been working with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to secure the provision of fluoride," he said.

In an interview later St. Marseille, said a so-called "dosage feed pump" failed weeks ago. The pump adds the necessary chemicals to create fluoride for our drinking water.

There were also leaks of the chemicals when the pump failed.

St. Marseille said the city retained some experts who made a slew of health and safety recommendations concerning the storage area where the chemicals are kept, including improved breathing apparatuses, ventilation and practices should a spill occur.

He was asked why the city didn't have such policies in place already.

"The standards change and we need to make sure we meet the new standards," he said. "They get reviewed all the time."

St. Marseille said until the new policy measures are in place, the city drinking water will remain fluoride free.