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July 14, 2024
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By Gillian Ward

As reported in Canada's orphaned/abandoned mines - A national travesty, "Open shafts, empty warehouses, garbage and uncontained tailings sit quietly in the northern landscape. Aside from the people that live next door to Canada's abandoned mines, the matter is out of sight, out of mind."

This is the story of one of these mines.

The orphaned Sherritt Gordon Copper/Zinc mine in Northwest Manitoba has been in active reclamation for a decade now. The reclamation process has required repeated applications of lime, intended to neutralize the acid lake surrounding the community school. An especially caustic form of lime, quicklime, was carried by high northern winds into the school grounds and classrooms, where the children of Sherridon play and learn. The children had no warning, nor protective equipment to shield them from the caustic dust, which reacts with moisture burning eyes, noses, mouths, throats, causing months of spontaneous nosebleeds and skin rashes, and for some, difficulty breathing. Had this happened only once, it would be a chain of unfortunate decisions and a failed plan. That this happened a second time is difficult to explain. That the school was assaulted with the same caustic three times in five years, is inexcusable.

The orphaned Sherritt Gordon Copper/Zinc mine in Northwest Manitoba was taken on for reclamation by the Province of Manitoba Energy and Mines in the late 2000’s. Today, Manitoba Climate and Conservation is responsible for remediation of this site, one of five high risk mine reclamations in Manitoba.

As part of the reclamation process, the shallow waters of Camp Lake received well oxidized, orange-red ore tailings, right next door to Cold Lake School of Manitoba’s Frontier School Division. The tailings were initially treated with lime to neutralize the formation of acid, and placed in Camp Lake, with the idea that the water would buffer the tailings from the atmosphere, preventing further acid generation. However, the massive exercise of trucking the tailings into the lake did not stop acid production, and the small tailings lake began to show just how complex this remediation job would become.

Camp Lake with Cold Lake School near Camp Lake
Cold Lake School is shown at centre, Camp Lake in background.
Photo supplied by W. Vacheresse, 2019.

Sherridon’s Mayor Dennis Hatch caught us up on a full decade of reclamation work, intended to clean up acidic effluent leaching from mine tailings laying exposed above ground. The reclamation project would remove the leaching tailings and safely store them under a cover of water in Camp Lake. Hatch explains, “Camp Lake was continuing to have a low pH, this lime (applied to the tailings material) was supposed to bring it up, but it didn’t. So what (Project Management) had to do…they spread, in the winter, when the ice was on, they spread the lime kiln dust on top of the snow and the ice and in the spring they were hoping it would go into the lake and neutralize the acid. But they never bothered to spray any water on top of this lime kiln dust and as soon as the wind blew, it blew it all into the school yard.”

According to a spokesperson for Manitoba Conservation and Climate, the government department responsible for the reclamation project, it was thought that application of quicklime near the school would not present a problem.

In an emailed statement, in part answering our question,' What was the rationale for spreading lime kiln dust on the ice of Camp Lake, without wetting it down'?, WaterToday received the following response from a spokesperson for Manitoba Conservation and Climate:

“The application of lime to the ice of Camp Lake was first done in winter 2014 to manage the pH of Camp Lake and enable the safe discharge of some water from the lake for the purpose of water level management while the mine waste reclamation project proceeded. The application plan was modelled on similar lime applications used to treat lakes in Scandinavia and northeastern North America that had been acidified by acid precipitation.

The applied lime was not wetted following placement in those applications and no adverse effects related to dust dispersal were noted in the studies, so the same approach was employed in this first lime application. Most of the 2014 application was completed without incident, but cold windy weather near the end of the application period resulted in some lime dust dispersal.”

Camp Lake Lime spreading
Quicklime spread on the ice of Camp Lake, March 5, 2014.
Photo supplied by Debi Hatch

According to the Principal’s Attendance Report the school was closed for students all day March 10, 2014 and staff worked until noon before being sent home. The school remained closed for a period of time while cleanup and inspections were performed.

WaterToday looked into the practise of liming for acidified lake environments and found the following paper published by Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at Virginia State University, USA.

An excerpt from that work follows:
    “Liming," as the word suggests, is the addition of limestone (calcite), primarily calcium carbonate (CaCO3), to neutralize acid waters…and buffer them from rapid fluctuations in pH.

    Limestone can…be applied to lakes, ponds, and their surrounding watersheds to protect them from acidification, to add calcium, and to restore their important ecological, economic, and recreational values. Adding limestone to maintain a near-neutral pH (pH 7) keeps lake and pond water safe for aquatic life.

    Hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2) and quicklime (calcium oxide, Ca(OH)2) generally are not recommended for treating surface waters because they are corrosive, difficult to control, and may not be legal to apply.

    Hydrated lime and quicklime have been used for acid neutralization because less is needed (they have higher neutralizing values than pure limestone), but both are caustic.

    (Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech/Virginia State University “Liming Acidified Lakes and Ponds” 420-254, Helfrich, Neves, Parkhurst, Extension Specialists, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, VSU.)

WT has obtained records showing that contractor for the project, Tervita supervised the spreading of caustic quicklime in 2014, 2015 and 2018, each time resulting in the particulate blowing into the school, with staff and students exposed.

In the early years of the reclamation work, Nick Benyk was Mayor of Sherridon. Dennis Hatch and his brother operated a sanding truck, and at one stage were subcontracted to do some of the lime spreading on Camp Lake. Hatch says the sand spreader focused the quicklime downward onto the ice, unlike the fertilizer or manure spreaders used, that threw the quicklime to scatter in the wind. Hatch claims he was careful not to apply the quicklime in windy conditions, yet there was no way to be sure without wetting it down, and this was not planned or ordered.

A Worker Safety Brief available at https://www.lime.org recommends the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) be consulted for the particular lime product of interest, but provides the following general guidelines for working around lime dust:
    Lime, particularly quicklime is an alkaline material that is reactive in the presence of moisture. The brief outlines the protective gear that should be worn by workers to protect eyes, skin and lungs from exposure to lime dust. “Particular care should be exercised with Quicklime because its reaction with moisture generates heat capable of causing thermal burns. Product Safety Care should be taken to avoid accidental mixing of quicklime and water (in any form, including chemicals containing water of hydration) to avoid creating excessive heat. Heat released by this reaction can ignite combustible materials or cause thermal damage to property or persons.”

    (Revised 1/22/2004 Fact Sheet – Lime Safety Precautions.)

Larry Alm has been living in Sherridon since 2007. An automotive mechanic by trade, Alm also runs heavy equipment. “I worked on the site for about a year and a half helping construct the water treatment plant. My (child) has been in Cold Lake School from the start, and is in Grade 7 now.

We did have a liming issue with the school. The last time they put lime on, they put it on in the wintertime dry, and the wind picked up and filled the ventilation system at the school. We didn’t notice it immediately but after a while (our child) started getting random nosebleeds. Just sitting watching tv and all of a sudden, bang, ...nose is bleeding. That went on for a couple of years. Even after they cleaned the school, once or sometimes twice a week... nose would bleed. It would start for no reason. (My child) complained of rashes a few times, we changed laundry soap, and that didn’t seem to help. I can’t say, I don’t know enough about that liming, but it seems odd that it hasn’t happened now since the liming has gone away. (My child) has recovered and hasn’t had nosebleeds for quite awhile either.”

WaterToday caught up with Sherridon resident, parent and former Cold Lake School Committee Member and Town Councillor Michelle Reimer at her home. Ms. Reimer told WT that her child was five years old, attending Cold Lake School in the winter of 2014 when the liming of Camp Lake began. Ms. Reimer shared that her normally healthy, active child got sick during the liming event of 2014, experiencing chest pains and breathing problems such that her child could not even jump on the trampoline without getting out of breath. “The school was shut for a month the first time it happened (March 2014).”

The symptoms, including blistered lips that took many doctors visits and expensive creams just suddenly cleared up one day. Other symptoms cleared between the annual quicklime applications, but Reimer is as unsure as anyone what the long-term effects might be.

Prior to the winter of 2015 liming exercise, the community gathered on February 6, 2015, to meet with Manitoba government representatives, project consultants and contractors from TetraTech and Tervita,

“The community had concerns with lack of communications and the spreading of the lime and asked what measures would be taken this year so that an incident would not take place as which did last year at the Cold Lake School.”

From the minutes of the community meeting Feb. 6, 2015: BD of Tervita ensured that more communications would take place prior to the spreading to let the community and the school know when the spreading of lime would occur and that they were looking at spreading the lime on the weekends when school was not in attendance and if there was a North wind they would not place lime.

Referring to the February 6, 2015 meeting, Mr. Alm told WaterToday, “I asked the question at the meeting, why can’t they put it on as a so-called slurry? They told us that was a very expensive thing to have to do. It may be expensive, but you eliminate the risk of this stuff blowing around. That right away put the red flag up, because it's costing money they aren’t going to do it.”

Alm went on to say, “We were told they were going to put that lime on and spray it down, so that it would freeze to the surface of the lake, and that way there is no chance of it blowing off, and it would go into the water as the melt took place.”

Just six weeks later, in March 2015, the QuickLime was blowing toward the school again. Mr. Alm recounted the event to WaterToday, “But that (wetting down) didn’t happen, they just put (the lime) on as a dry powder and then it just blew everywhere that it could, and that’s a really bad lake for high winds down there.”

We asked Manitoba Climate and Conservation to comment on the second application of lime (2015) to Camp Lake and got the following response, emailed by a government spokesperson:

“Wetting of the lime was introduced in 2015 as a precaution, along with weather monitoring and subsequent suspension of lime application during windy periods and was found to be effective in preventing lime dust dispersal. “

Testimony from the community appearing in a series of emails and photographs appears in the Liming Timeline, below, indicating that the lime dust was not controlled in 2015, but was again blowing off the lake and causing issues at the school. By the time the lime had to be applied in 2018, contractor Tervita had a new plan for getting the job done, noted in the Sherridon Mine Rehabilitation Lime Application Management Plan, dated February 8, 2018.

From the Tervita Lime Application Management Plan, As directed by the owner’s consultant, Tervita will apply approximately 600 tonnes of high calcium quicklime on Camp Lake. The product type, amount and application rate has been defined by the consultant.

It is understood at this time that Graymont Western Canada Inc. will supply the high calcium quicklime. The lime will be applied to the ice surface via a five-tonne mobility power take off fertilizer spreader towed by a farm tractor. The on-site Tetra Tech representative will delineate the area and advise Tervita’s on-site supervisor of the size of the area, and the number of tonnes required within the area.

As the lime application progresses, Tervita will saturate the section with water using two 2” trash pumps and fire hoses. This will allow for the particles to freeze to the ice surface.

The quicklime was spread again in 2018, showing up as airborne particulate that hit the school and community for the third time in a five-year span.

Mr. Alm spoke of the liming event of 2018, telling WaterToday, “I know Chris and Sheryl Matheson, their lodge which is on the edge of that lake, I snowmobiled past there to go ice fishing and it was just unbelievable the coverage of lime in their yard and the lodge and everything, and the school is right beside it.”

From a circular distributed in the community by Manitoba Health Ministry in 2018:
    “What should I do if I think I see lime dust? Avoid disturbing the dust and keep others away from it. Avoid the accidental mixing of lime dust and water to protect airways, skin and eyes. Lime dust should be cleaned up by someone with proper training and protective equipment. Please contact the Mines community liaison, DW, for any questions about suspected lime dust deposits.

    What are some of the health effects and symptoms of lime dust exposure?

    Most often in settings like this, a person breathing in or touching lime dust could have immediate irritation and inflammation to the skin, airways or eyes, resulting in pain, burning sensations, dry skin, redness, blurred vision, sore throat, cough, or shortness of breath. Swallowing lime dust can cause abdominal pain, cramps and vomiting.”

The response from Manitoba Conservation and Climate, offered via email statement from a staff spokesperson related to the 2018 release of quicklime near the Cold Lake School follows:

“Mine waste relocation had progressed to a point in summer 2018 that the flow of water from Sherlett Creek could be restored through Camp Lake and into Cold Lake, providing a natural source of alkalinity and eliminating any need for liming going forward.”

TetraTech (NASDAQ TTEK) as the consultant to the Province of Manitoba on the orphan mine reclamation project claims on their corporate website to offer “services for the complete mine life cycle—taking mining projects from pick to pit to port. Tetra Tech’s mining and minerals practice has been serving the industry since the 1960s, with a strong focus on and deep roots in Canada. We have a reputation for excellent work and a long track record of successfully completed projects.”

WT reached out to TetraTech through the company’s media room, looking for comment on the Sherridon Orphan Mine Reclamation, including the current status of the project. At the time of publication, WaterToday had received no response from TetraTech.

We likewise reached out to Tervita (https://tervita.com) for a statement on the Sherridon reclamation. While the company did reply to our request, they deferred to the Province of Manitoba to answer any queries related to this project on their behalf.

According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) presented to the community for quicklime, long term effects of exposure are unknown, however, the silica in the product can have serious long-term repercussions. Just as the long-term effects of asbestos were unknown at one time, parents in the community are concerned what may happen down the road.

“We withheld our kids from school, we could not be sure that it was safe. The kids couldn’t use their skating rink, it was full of lime. It was bad, coughing. There was no compensation, the kids should be compensated”, declared Ms. Reimer.

“The most important thing is the kids.”
Michelle Reimer, parent of a child attending Frontier School Division’s Cold Lake School
in Sherridon, Manitoba,one of dozens of children impacted by the repeated liming of Camp Lake.

As of the time of this writing, the parents of Sherridon, students and staff of Cold Lake School may be relieved that the liming has stopped for now, but with water quality test results for Camp Lake falling below pH 6.0 again in 2019, and many hazardous metals levels increasing over 2017 levels, no one can be sure of the status of this project, whether liming may resume in the future, or what the impacts on the kids might be years down the track. WaterToday will track developments in this community, reporting to Canadian readers that the matter not be forgotten.

An October 7, 2019 letter from Mayor of Sherridon to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister still waits for a response.

Timeline of Events: Sherridon Orphan Mine Reclamation, Liming of Camp Lake

(Note that names and contact information for those who did not consent to the use of their correspondence have been removed to avoid identification.)

Winter of 2014, First Liming Event

From: "Debi Hatch"
To: "X "
Cc: "X- Frontier", "X- Frontier", "X"
Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2014 12:54:46 PM Subject: Lime Kiln Dust
Hi (X)

(X) asked that I send you some pictures of the Lime Kiln dust that Trevita (sic) is placing on Camp Lake which is right by the school. The pictures with the truck spreading the dust were taken on Wednesday, Mar 5th, as you can see the dust flies around, so it would not take much to suspend the dust and carry it over the school. also sending pictures to show how close the lake is to the school. There was Lime Kiln dust on a recycling container which is on the step of the school and window sills, as the picturses (sic) show.

I am the Public Health nurse in the community. I had a call from the principal at Cold Lake school, stating that students and staff at the school were experiencing respiratory irritations and she stated that the Lime Kiln Dust being placed on Camp Lake was being carried over the school by wind.

I contacted an employee (x) of Trevita (sic)and explained that the school staff and students were experiencing respiratory problems due to the Lime Kiln dust being carried over the school by the wind. I was told by him that they were just doing what they were told and I would have to contact Tetra Tech. I called (x) the TetraTech employee here in Sherridon and she said she was aware of the dust being carried by the wind and it was the Lime Kiln Dust that was placed on the lake on Wednesday that was blowing over the school, as they were working at the other end of the lake today. I expressed my concerns with the respiratory problems being experienced at the school and she said that they did no (sic) know that the wind would be strong enough to blow the Lime Kiln Dust around and that it was supposet (sic) to snow tomorrow and that would cover up the Lime Kiln Dust. I also expressed concern with the Lime Kiln Dust being carried into the school yard where the children play at recess, she stated that it should not be a problem. I also talked to (x) the head of this project, who is in Winnipeg and discussed the situation with him, he stated he would call (the staff member at Sherridon) to discuss the situation... He also stated that the Lime Kiln Dust being blown into the school yard should not cause any harm to the students playing in the school yard.

I also, called our public health inspector in The Pas, who said she would look into the situation and would also contact someone in Environment and get back to me. As it was 3:30 pm on a Friday, she will call on Monday.

If you need anymore information you can call me at (x).

Debi Hatch
On 2014-03-10, at 2:10 PM, "Debi Hatch" wrote: Hi (x):
the principal was just into my office with another staff member. there are no children in school today just staff. They have all left the school, as they were experiencing the following symptoms:

burning eyes, Headache, burning around mouth, metalic, (sic) chalky taste in mouth, sore throat, The principal stated she rubbed her eye and it started to burn.

The principal said on Friday when she was leaving the school, there was a film all over her car in the school parking lot, so if enough of the Lime Kiln Dust got into the school on Friday that is causing these problems or if it is from the wind carrying it today.

(Letter to Manitoba’s Minister of Energy and Mines, from then Sherridon Mayor, (x) following the first liming incident that shut down Cold Lake School in March of 2014)

The Community Council is concerned with a recent incident that took place involving the work being completed on the Mine rehabilitation project here in Sherridon.

The incident involved the staff and students at the Cold Lake School, which is located right next to Camp Lake. QuickLime had been spread on the surface of Camp Lake and on March 7, 2014 the wind was strong enough to carry the lime into the school. There were numerous reports of feeling unwell from the staff and students at the school on this day. The symptoms ranged from respiratory irritations to nausea and involved the whole school population. As a result, the school had to be closed for three days till a cleaning company could be brought in to clean the school.
The Community Council is concerned with the lack of regard for the health and safety of the staff and students at the school with the placing of the lime on the lake surface. The staff at the school were not made aware that lime would be placed on Camp Lake and as a result the staff and students were exposed to caustic substance.
In the future the Community Council would ask that any type of work that has the potential to impact the health and safety of our residents be thoroughly discussed with the parties involved.
Sincerely yours,
(X) Mayor (Sherridon, MB)

Winter of 2015, Second Liming Event
From: "Debi Hatch"
To: “X”, "X"
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 9:08:55 AM
Subject: lime dust

Hi (X) & (X):
what is the plan to deal with the lime kiln dust blowing off of Camp Lake into the school yard and beyond into the community? We had this problem on Monday and again yesterday and we are suppose to get north winds again today, so the stuff will be blowing around again.
Tervita employees were placing the lime on camp lake on monday during high wind conditions and then they all took off out of the community.
So much for the promise we heard at the meeting on Feb 6/15 that we would not have a repeat of last year.
what is your plan for dealing with this ongoing problem?
I emailed (X) & (X) on this before but have not had a response

From: (X)
To: D Hatch
Subject: Hi Debbie
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:36:28 +0000
I've been in consultation with our hygene (sic) dept and they will be getting back to me on what actions we need to take. I may be travelling to Sherridon tomorrow just to have a chat and try to figure out what is really going on and see if they are or have followed the SWP they developed that was geared to eliminate the dust problem.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

From: "Debi Hatch"
To: "X"
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2015 4:52:32 PM
Subject: RE: Hi Debbie

Hi (X):
just came home from work and the lime dust is really blowing off the lake again today....something has to be done about this

Camp Lake
Photo supplied by Debi Hatch, taken March 2015
From: "Debi Hatch"
To: "X"
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2015 6:03:02 PM
Subject: Lime Kiln dust

Hi (X):
As promised here are the pictures of the lime kiln dust blowing around. The school is 100 yards from the lake. I could feel the lime kiln dust in my eyes and chest from just taking the pictures for a few minutes

From: "Debi Hatch"
To: minesinfo@gov.mb.ca
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 7:16:10 AM
Subject: Lime Kiln Dust

For the few past days we have had high winds here that have been blowing Lime Kiln dust off of camp lake and right into the school yard and further over the community. This lime kiln dust was placed on the lake as part of the mine clean up that has been taking place in the community (sherridon) since 2009. There was a community meeting held a month ago with local residents, (X) from your office, Tervita and tetra tech. We were assured that we would not have a repeat of last year where the lime kiln dust blew off the lake and right into the school. The school had to be closed for several days. The lime kiln dust was placed on the lake on Monday during high winds and it was carried into the school yard. Tervita left the community as quick as they could and yesterday, we again had high winds and the lime kiln dust was blowing into the school. It is obvious that there is no concern for the health of our children or local residents when there were no measures taken to stop the lime kiln dust from blowing into the school and the community even though we were promised that this would not happen this year.

Debi Hatch

Winter of 2018, Sherridon Orphan Mine Reclamation

Chris and Sheryl Matheson, parents of school children attending Cold Lake School sent the following email:
From: Kenanow Lodge
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2018 2:23:20 PM
To: M Reimer
Cc: (X)
Subject: Re: RE: Lime Application Complete

Once again the lime application has resulted in it not being contained to Camp Lake. On Saturday we walked our hotel property and it is completely covered in lime. I have videos and have attached some photos for the scc to look at. There is no chance that I have this much lime on my property and there to be not the same amount in the school property. I have contacted conservation and have sent copies to (X) and our Lawyer.

The blatant disregard to follow the policies and procedure they themselves put into place continue to put the people of our community at health risks. Our clothing and outerwear were covered in the lime just by walking through our property. This is unacceptable and believe that this needs to be addressed

Chris and Sheryl Matheson Kenanow Lodge

Letter from Manitoba Ministry of Health, to the community of Sherridon:

April 12, 2018, the Mayor of Sherridon Council alerted provincial officials of an incident of lime dust on school property with staff and students experiencing transient symptoms of nose bleeding, dry mouth, itchy eyes, and sore throat. No severe cases of illness occurred.
The surface of the frozen lake as was seen from the school front was covered with lime that had recently been applied as part of a remediation process for the former mine at Camp Lake. Visible signs of lime deposits due to wind factors were observed on the ground and various other structures located on the school property facing the lake from the school front. Window frames and ledges were also observed with lime deposits. There was no visible lime on the ground and or on walls noted at the time of the inspection from behind the school structure.
Contractors were called in to clean the school. During inspection, it was confirmed that the interior of the school was thoroughly and effectively cleaned by using multiple techniques such as washing, wiping, vacuuming and air scrubbing. The property restoration specialists used HEPA filters in all air scrubbing units as they are typically more effective at removal of fine particles.
The follow-up inspection on May 15, 2018, found no evidence of lime dust contamination that might pose a health hazard to students and staff, confirming the effectiveness of the recommended mitigation efforts at the Cold Lake School site.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Hatch
Sent: April-15-18 8:25 PM
To: (HSAL) (Health Inspector, Manitoba)
Cc: sherridoncoun@gmail.com; D. Hatch; M Reimer
Subject: Lime

Further to our conversation of last thursday I suggest that you come to the community to investigate the complaints of residents feeling Unwell when the lime was being spread on Camp Lake And also the wind carried the lime throughout the community We feel that this is a serious incident that needs your attention I look forward to seeing you in the community
Thank you
Sent from my iPhone

From: Debi Hatch
Sent: April-16-18 9:12 AM
To: (X) (HSAL)
Subject: lime kiln dust

We have a mine remediation project taking place in our community, which involves placing Lime Kiln dust onto the ice of a lake that contains mine tailings to neutralize the acidic water. This lake is right next to our school and the company placing the lime did not take measures to ensure the lime dust did not blow into the school yard and adjacent properties. The lime was being placed on the lake from March 16 to April 2. The principal at the school states that there were complaints of nose bleeds, dry mouths, itchy eyes and sore throats. I was away during this period and did not see anyone at the Health Centre and I do not think anyone traveled out of the community for medical treatment.

The lime kiln dust would have been carried by the wind into the school yard where the children play. Are there any measures that should be taken to protect the students from further exposure to the lime kiln dust? and are there any long term effects that we need to be concerned with?

thank you
Debi Hatch, RN BN, Public Health Nurse, Sherridon Health Centre

From: (GOM)
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018 11:37 AM
To: Debi Hatch; “X” (HSAL); “X” (HSAL); “X” (HSAL)
Subject: RE: lime kiln dust

Thanks for letting me know Debbie. S/A/H see below and attached MSDS. I know this has happened twice before, the first time the school was closed down until we could ensure safety of students/staff and have a look at the HVAC system. Back then one of the public health inspectors did a site visit and I know Manitoba Conservation was involved in liasing (sic) with the company itself, perhaps even levying a fine.

Did the school end up closing that you know of for this most recent episode and any severe illness that you are aware of?

The lime kiln dust is mainly an irritant for short term episodic exposures of this nature, which makes sense given the symptoms that you describe. Long term sequelae appears to be more related to frequent occupational exposures over a longer period of time, perhaps related to the trace amounts of silica in the material itself. Having said that, I am disappointed that this has occurred again, and measures need to be taken to prevent a re-occurrence.

S/A/H any advice on how to proceed? I think Sustainable Development should be made aware so that they can review the incident and decide how to follow up with the company.

Thanks very much
Office of the Medical Officer of Health, Northern Health Region

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: X (HSAL)"
To: "Dennis Hatch"
Cc: sherridoncoun@gmail.com, "M. Reimer"
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2018 6:19:23 PM
Subject: RE: Lime

Hi Dennis,
On April 17, 2018, During our visit to Sherridon along with (X) and (X), we at the time of inspection observed an accumulation of lime dust residues in small granular as well as dust form in various front areas of school's exterior property. Areas included play structures such as slides within the fenced area, on the rooftop of the small storage shed and mini greenhouse, and also on snow piles nearby. There was no indication of the lime dust on components of HVAC system at the time inspection.

It appeared that the lime dust that became airborne due to the wind during or after the lime application between Mar 16th - Mar 31st, 2018 subjected staff and the students to inhale lime dust during school hours.

At this point, to protect school staff and students from further exposure to the deposits of lime dust as observed on school property, it must be ensured immediately that outdoor activity shall remain ceased until complete cleaning of all areas including play structures is completed. Necessary cleanup arrangements must be made as soon as possible.


On Thursday, May 10, 2018, 9:17:03 p.m. CDT, Michelle Reimer wrote:

Over the period of the last 6 to 8 weeks my (child) has developed or dealt with chest pains shortness of breath itchiness and visible skin rashes and also has continued to grow skin growths on.. face and hands. The Flin Flon Clinic is treating these issues that for my understanding are from a weaken immunity system that they are treating as well. Currently the medical problems continue to increase that are causing me grave concern that this is due to the inhalation for a period of weeks that … was exposed to inside and outside of the ColdLake School. Prier (sic) to this incident my (child) was in good health. As a councilor (sic) and a parent my concerns are for all the children as I have been told there are our children in the community now suffering from similar symptoms. I am asking other families of the children to come forward and publicly request an health assessment be arranged for each child of our community be done by a physician that has dealt with children that have been exposed to similar chemicals. If this could be coordinated with in the community by the RHA The Public Health Inspector and TetraTech at perhaps the nursing station as most parents in this community do not have transportation and typically takes 2 months or longer for 1 appointment never mind 30. I will not be sending my (child) back to school until I can get answers from the Dr if these issues have been caused by all the lime exposure from the last 3 yrs.

I will be awaiting your response.

Thank You
Michelle Reimer
Parent / SCC Councilor

On Fri, May 11, 2018 at 3:31 PM, Larry Alm wrote:

My wife and I have also been having some issues with our son breaking out in a strange looking rash and also getting random nose bleeds for no apparent reason. We to believe that these issues with our children must be taken seriously and be looked into ASAP.

From: X
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2018 6:40:02 PM
To: Larry Alm
Cc: (contacts removed to protect identities of those that did not wish to be named)
Subject: Re: Fwd: Kids getting sick

I would also like to add that X had been working for council along the roadsides during lime placement near the crossing of Camp/Derry Lakes as well as near the Kenanow. He too has been getting nose bleeds and during that time came home from work and had a rash which started above the hand area and spread up the arm during the evening and it was itchy. He asked me at that time to make a dr's apt which I did but we had to wait for apt., due to the Dr. shortages and his apt is May 23rd. I spoke with him this evening and he is still getting nose bleeds for no apparent reason and had one the other day while working in the campground. He said he will let me know if another occurs We will be attending apt and I will be taking the MSDS to show Dr.


Sent: Monday, May 14, 2018 11:44 AM
To: “X”
To Who It may concern,
My (children) and I have lived in sherridon all our lives up until November 2016 we moved away. From the time my youngest (child) was in school (child) suffered severe nosebleeds to the point where (child) was lethargic, this was at the time when the lime on camp lake was contaminating the air vents at cold lake school and still is today. While (my child) was at school (child) suffered nosebleeds also on a daily basis, I've had to pick (child) up from school several times because it was so bad. Then we moved away to (x) since that time we moved from sherridon my (child) hasn't suffered a nosebleed since. I really hope something is done to make cold lake school clean and free of the lime that is contaminating it and safer for the existing children back home.

Yours Sincerely,

On the letterhead of “X”
Medical Officer of Health

May 17, 2018

Dear Mayor and Council, parents, school staff, and concerned community members, I would like to express thanks to the community for bringing forward your concerns for the safety of the school children so that steps could be taken to make sure the lime dust health risk was addressed. The Public Health Inspector, (X) working with the Medical Officers of Health, has finished his investigation of the Cold Lake School site for Lime dust. His role is to investigate and enforce regulations under the Public Health Act so that public places like the school are safe for community members.

Following these efforts, the school site is again free from lime dust and is safe for students and staff to be in school, as was communicated earlier this month.

The Public Health Inspector's first visit to Cold Lake School showed that there was lime dust inside and outside the school, so a complete cleaning of the school and teacherages was ordered. Two follow-up visits have both shown that the cleaning was completed and that there was no longer lime dust on the school site.

From Manitoba Health Inspection Report:

Public Health Protection received a call on April 12, 2018, from Mayor of Sherridon Council to report an incident of lime dust on school property with staff and students experiencing symptoms of nose bleeding, dry mouth, itchy eyes, and sore throat. After cleaning and inspections, site visits with community Mayor and Public Health Nurse, the letter states: Conclusion:

• Our department's follow-up inspection on May 15, 2018, found no evidence of lime dust contamination that might pose a health hazard to students and staff, confirming the effectiveness of the recommended mitigation efforts at the Cold Lake School site.

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