Health Minister involved with Shannon complaints

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Photo: Doris Fritschmann

Photo by Doris Fritschmann.  Water contamination and Justice rally held in Shannon November 9, 2009.

A new television news report as well as tests showing the severity of water contamination near the Valcartier military base has aroused the curiosity of Quebec's health minister.

According to published reports, Health Minister Yves Bolduc said he is seeking more information about the damage caused by a chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE) could have had on the residents of the community 25 kilometres north of Quebec City.

Bolduc, according to reports, has asked for a report on the facts of the case and any possible public health issues that remain.

TCE turned up in Shannon's drinking water after decades of use at the nearby Valcartier military base and has been traced as the possible cause of major illnesses in Shannon.

He also wants to know if it is possible to do a full epidemiological study of people possibly affected by the contamination, which has resulted in the filing of a class action lawsuit on behalf of Shannomn residents.
Charles Veilleux, a lawyer involved with the class-action lawsuit, said recently he had received a new wave of calls from present and former residents of Shannon since the report aired on CBC.

He was quoted as saying that many residents had previously believed they were safe if they stopped drinking the water in 2000 when federal officials ordered residents to stop drinking water from the tap.
Veilleux expects the class-action lawsuit could go before the courts next fall.

Bolduc said he wanted to see what he could do to help the community, following reports by scientists researching issues tied to the class-action lawsuit launched by Shannon residents that there was a link between the presence of TCE in the ground water and the incidence of cancer in Valcartier.

The researchers reportedly found 27 cases of cancer in all, with the genetic mutation appearing in 24.

A recent installment of the Radio-Canada program "Enquête" said documents showed the federal government knew of the contamination for several decades.

Josée Verner the federal minister responsible for the region of Quebec, reportedly refused to respond to the allegations, saying it was pending legal case.

However, she was reported to have said she considers it a priority to give financial support to Shannon to eliminate any remaining water issues through the government's infrastructure program.

The federal government has denied and responsibility for hundreds of cancer cases at the heart of a class-action lawsuit filed over allegations of contaminated water near CFB Valcartier in Quebec, where residents of Shannon are suing for in excess of $200 million in damages.

The complaint alleges that health problems were caused by water tainted with an industrial solvent used on the military base in the 1950s.