Alberton keeping close tabs on fumigant testing

Eric McCarthy
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Michael Murphy

Alberton Mayor Michael Murphy says he will name an Alberton town councillor to sit in on testing of the agricultural fumigant chloropicrin on a test plot in St. Roch.

Murphy, environment committee chairman David Campbell, and town administrator Susan Wallace-Flynn attended a meeting with P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry and officials from her department earlier Monday in Summerside. The mayor said the minister invited town involvement in the testing of the fumigant.

The town raised alarm about the use of the fumigant as soon as it learned permission had been granted for its use in a field trial.

Sherry subsequently advised the town via a letter last month her department wants to ensure the product can be used safely in P.E.I. before it would consider its use by Westech Agriculture.

Westech is seeking to have chloropicrin tested as a possible alternative to the fumigant methyl bromide (MB), which it has been using in recent years. MB has been phased out under the Montreal Protocol because it has been identified as a risk to the ozone layer. Westech, however, has been granted an exemption to continue to use MB.

Murphy expressed satisfaction in the tone of the meeting with the minister, and her assurance the testing will be closely monitored. It will be carried out on land belonging to Westech owners.

“They listened to our concerns and they explained more in detail how this testing is taking place, where it is taking place,” Murphy said of information provided by Sherry and members of her staff.

Campbell termed the meeting informative.

“She’s genuinely concerned,” he said of the minister’s interest.

The meeting also addressed concerns the town has had over the use of lobster bodies on Westech property. Some of the company’s land is located within the town and the use of the lobster bodies drew complaints and a petition from residents in the area last year.

Campbell expressed satisfaction that a full-time enforcement officer is now employed in West Prince who will be monitoring the situation. He noted, as well, that the Cascumpec and Arsenault Pond watershed groups are also monitoring the situation.

“I’m glad there’s more than the Town of Alberton involved,” he said. “If there is a problem they are going to be right there, with us.”

Organizations: Montreal Protocol

Geographic location: Alberton, Summerside, P.E.I. West Prince

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