Residents of Blackville anxious for answers to arsenic mystery

Residents in Blackville are putting the pressure on the provincial Health Department in hopes of finding answers to their arsenic mystery.

At least seven people have tested positive for elevated levels of arsenic in their blood or urine since December 2007.

About 200 people attended a public meeting last week with environmental activist Inka Milewski, member of the legislature Rick Brewer and provincial chief medical officer Dr. Eilish Cleary.

Milewski told the crowd that she thought a new round of urine testing could be done and processed within the province, instead of sending the samples to a lab in Ontario.

So far, the province has collected samples from people living in the Digby Street and Shaffer Lane section of the village, where five residents have tested positive for higher-than-normal levels of arsenic.

“I think everybody’s a little antsy because they haven’t got many results back,” said Councillor Jonathan Brennan.

Cleary admitted the province could have done a better job keeping residents informed about its investigation.

In a public statement issued last week, Health Minister Mike Murphy said his department realizes some people in the community are sick, and the government is taking the situation seriously.

“We also recognize that others are anxious because public health officials and clinical physicians have not yet been able to provide these individuals with answers to their questions,” Murphy wrote.

Councillor Jake Stewart said the Department of Health should consider expanding its current investigation to include the entire community.

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