Apples to Oranges: Prince Rupert Mayor Calls Comparison to Flint Unfair

Brittany Webster
11/05/2019

Prince Rupert has had no shortage of water woes over the past year and more concerns are being raised following a drinking water investigation in 11 Canadian cities.

Prince Rupert, along with places like Montreal and Regina, was reported as having some of the worst drinking water and in line with the lead levels found in Flint, Michigan, which has become synonymous with contaminated water.

But Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain said at last night's city council meeting that the comparison is like apples to oranges, because Flint had only lead pipes servicing the community's water supply making exposure unavoidable.

"One thing that is very important for the community to understand is that the city does not have lead pipes and we are not delivering lead to people's homes. So the ultimate issue right now is that we have a naturally lower p-h water system and if you have lead pipes in your home or your home was built before 1990 when the plumbing code was updated you are potentially at risk of having lead pipes and therefore some leaching that may happen in your own home plumbing system or commercial system."

Dr Raina Fumerton, Acting Chief Medical Health Officer for Northern Health, echoed Brain's statement calling the comparison to Flint disappointing.

"The sensationalism of this is really doing harm and not good, and really causing people to panic and be anxious about something that's actually not new and easily mitigated and not an acute toxicity type of event which I think has not always been clear in some of the recent media."

Fumerton says the affects of chronic low level lead exposure would take years to show, but there is no safe level of lead consumption.

The city is reminding residents to flush their taps until the water runs noticably colder before consumption, especially in the mornings after the water has been sitting idle overnight. Both Brain and Fumerton say tests conducted after flushing the taps show levels well below health guidelines.

For those still concerned about contaminated water, samples of drinking water can be taken to Northern Labs on 3rd Avenue West for testing.

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