Writer Steps Up His Fight to Protect Water Resources (Letter)

Dear Editor;

What will it take to convince the Manitoba government that it should never allow arsenic to be released into our surface waters?

I consider this action reprehensible, yet that is exactly what the province has permitted (the Town of) Virden to do, with arsenic that has been removed from the water source at the town's treatment plant.

The following is my response to Premier Selinger and Minister Mackintosh in regard to their letter. It informs me that they’ll continue to allow the arsenic that’s recovered from the Virden water treatment plant to be released elsewhere. My concern is that this will, over time, only add to surface water contamination and pollute the environment.

This will create unknown consequences for future generations.

Many other substances that are considered toxic in other jurisdictions are obviously not of concern here. It seems this government has no problem with putting lives at risk.

This province encourages Manitobans to drink alcohol responsibly. Who could argue with that? Yet it has no problem with allowing this outrageous arsenic issue to continue.  

Naive as it is, this is what is taking place. Manitoba assumes that minute contributions of arsenic are quite harmless to those who would consume water from this source. 

But time takes it's toll. Health issues will come to pass and people will wonder…Why?

How does one tell parents that their children are sick with arsenic poisoning or related cancer and illnesses? Will they understand that according to Manitoba Water Quality Standards, this would not be a problem?  I don't think so!

The Criminal Code of Canada states it is an indictable offence to place poison in a place where it may be easily consumed by livestock. There is no mention with respect to human victims.  I can only assume that the writers of that portion of the code would realize the implications of health risks where poison is involved.  Apparently not!

Manitoba Health has told me that arsenic should never be put in a water source. Good for them! They have recognized the Precautionary Principle. And rather than be confronted with related health issues of future generations, they have taken a stand against arsenic. Common sense prevails. No one is immune or invincible to arsenic poisoning.

As the presiding Judge in the Tainted Blood Inquiry, Justice Horace 
Krever stated some 17 years ago: "The relationship between a regulator and the regulated must never become one in which the regulator loses sight of the principle that it only regulates in the public interest and not in the interest of the regulated". 

In closing, I once more urge that the province require Virden to bring in a safe method of arsenic disposal.

John Fefchak,
Virden, Manitoba.


PLT said…
At least in the "States, SOMETHING is being done. It may not be the final answer. But if THEY can do it, why can't we? Please read; "FDA Bans (Most) Arsenic in Chicken Feed" at:
John Fefchak said…
Arsenic poisoning starts with headaches, confusion, severe diarrhea and drowsiness. When the poisoning becomes acute, symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, hair loss, stomach pain and more convulsions.

Continued poisoning leads to a coma followed by death.
PLT said…
Please read: "The Arsenic in Our Drinking Water" at