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Fish Tissue Sampling

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On September 10, 2015, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) issued a letter which stated that they agree with CN's opinion that concentrations of oil components in the fish in Minisinakwa Lake do not pose an unacceptable risk to human or wildlife health based on the data submitted and the analysis summarized within CN's summary letter report.

CN's fish sampling program was designed to address fish health by testing for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are the released oil components that have the greatest potential for accumulation and toxic effects in fish and consumers of fish. 

Baseline levels of PAHs in fish found in the environment can come from a variety of combustion (fire-related) sources, which may not be related to the derailment and oil spill, such as wood stoves and forest fires.  If PAHs are taken up by fish, they do not remain there for an extended period of time.  Instead, the fish body enzymes degrade PAHs to metabolic by-products, which are readily excreted.  Therefore, long-term accumulation of PAHs is not expected.  Fish samples were collected within the first two months of the oil spill, to investigate the levels of PAHs in the fish during the time with highest risk of exposure.

Fish were collected from Minisinakwa Lake at the mouth of the Makami River by the local community and Mattagami First Nation members between March 12 and April 29, 2015.  The collection methods were a combination of hook and line (angling) and gill net.  The fish were provided to CN and 22 whole specimens were submitted to an accredited laboratory for analysis of PAHs.  These fish were all greater than ten centimetres in length, and represented locally-consumed fish species (northern pike, whitefish, walleye (pickerel), cisco, common ling, and yellow perch).  Each fish underwent laboratory analyses as whole fish, and fillet with and without skin.  This was done to account for the different preparation and consumption methods available to the community.

Dead fish were observed periodically in the Makami River and Minisinakwa Lake throughout the remediation work.  Dead fish observed on the River or Lake were collected by CN and were inspected for visual signs of oiling.  All fish observations were shared with the regulators. The fish were then preserved on ice until the end of the remediation work.  At the end of the 2015 remediation work, the MOECC requested the dead fish that were collected during the sediment removal activities.  The fish were relinquished to the MOECC and are currently being analyzed by the MOECC.  The MOECC also received 40 fish samples collected during the fish netting program conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in October 2015. The results of the fish sample analyses have not been received and reviewed by CN.  The Sudbury & District Health Unit has reviewed the analytical results for the fish and found "no increased health risk associated with the consumption of fish from Minisinakwa Lake as a result of the derailment".