Investigation to address asbestos problem

·2 min read

Over a year has passed since the issue of asbestos-containing material (ACM) was brought to light in Kahnawake, but still, the community believes that too many questions remain unanswered.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) is launching a five-month independent investigation starting in April, to gather further information in order to properly address the matter and ensure a safer future for lands in the community.

The project sponsor, primary contact and lead on the Asbestos Working Group, Cody Diabo, said that while some information has been revealed, the community still deserves to know more.

“Why, how, when, these are the main questions that remain,” said Diabo. “When people ask questions, these are the things we don’t know. We have a rough idea of when it started, but we don’t know for sure, so we are looking at uncovering it.”

According to the press release by the MCK on Wednesday, the project charter for the investigation was approved by consensus on February 15, at the MCK’s meeting. Along with Diabo, the team in charge is made up of Gina Deer, Lindsay LeBorgne and is supported by project manager Heather Jacobs-Whyte. They are currently looking into contracting a firm that has experience with asbestos-containing material to help collect facts, events and timelines in regards to the issue.

Diabo confirmed that as they are also looking into improving transparency and accountability. As a result, they will be adding a community member who will be selected in the upcoming weeks, whose role will be to act as an observer during the investigation.

“The MCK has spent a considerable amount of time, human resources and funds to address the issue,” said Diabo in the press release. “We are confident this investigation and report will give us those answers - and more. And, of course, we will provide updates throughout the process as information becomes available.”

A final report will be presented to the community by the end of August, with recommendations and tools for future remedial measures. Diabo hopes that the investigation will also help to ease the community’s anxiety.

“Every time we talk about the subject we use the abbreviation ACM or say asbestos,” said Diabo. “Right away, it triggers an inner fear in people, but it’s important to remember that it’s asbestos-containing material. There’s always a risk, but it’s lower.”

While the press release stated that the investigation would address the “asbestos landfill issue” Diabo specified that in no way does it implicate or involve the Landfill Office.

Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door