Concerns raised about drinking water as chlorine delivered by rail held up by blockades

WATCH: The president of Responsible Distribution Canada, says large cities and municipalities could soon run out of chlorine used to treat drinking water.

Hundreds of freight trains are at a standstill across Ontario, not moving because of ongoing rail blockades.

One organization has now raised concerns about the impact it could have on drinking water since the chemicals needed to treat it are transported by rail.


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“We are very concerned actually,” says Cathy Campbell, president of Responsible Distribution Canada.

Campbell says large cities and municipalities could run out of chlorine in a week or two.

“There are some pretty big municipalities in Ontario that got their last delivery on Monday this week and were told ‘this is it,'” says Campbell.

The head of Utilities Kingston Jim Keech says they are aware of the situation.

“As it sits today we are not concerned,” says Keech. “We do use chlorine at both facilities .

“We have a fair amount of supply on hand at anytime.”

Keech says the city of Kingston’s current supply will last up to two months but they are working to have a solution in place if chlorine supplies do dry up.


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“The public does not have to have any concerns about the quality of the drinking water – our ability to continue to treat it,” says Keech. “We are talking to our suppliers, looking at the logistics of getting the material here.”

Campbell says not all municipalities are in the same situation as Kingston and that could result in boil water advisories being issued in some places as early as this Family Day weekend.

“We’re going to start to hear some different community’s right across the country having significant issues,” says Campbell.


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“Obviously, even though we are sitting with a good supply today, we are not going to wait until we are a month-and-a-half into this,” says Keech. “We are checking now and it’s something that we will be on over the course of next week.”

According to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association, approximately 4,500 rail cars are loaded each day across Canada.


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Canadian rail services were shut down Thursday as blockades across the country continue in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

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