I understand Alberta will not allow Wavers for home Inspectors .
Alberta is demanding all residents going back home to slave lake must sign wavers .
Does this seem fair…
Government reviews Slave Lake soil tests; residents sign waivers to see homes
By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press – 41 minutes ago
EDMONTON — People returning to their devastated homes in Slave Lake in northern Alberta are being told to sign waivers at the same time the province reviews tests done to check for heavy metals and toxins in the fire-scarred town’s soil.
The waivers, which shield the municipal government from blame if anyone is injured or harmed while visiting devastated neighbourhoods, are intended to ensure everyone understands how dangerous the sites still are, said Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee.
“We’re just concerned about people going to their sites,” said the mayor, who added the dangers include hazardous debris and hidden sinkholes. “We want to increase their awareness if there are potential concerns and what they may be.”
It has been almost three weeks since nearly 7,000 people fled their homes in the face of a forest fire that levelled more than 400 homes and businesses, about one-third of the town.
People have since been allowed to return and many businesses and public services have resumed.
But the burned-over areas remain fenced off. Security officers ensure that nobody enters without a signed waiver.
Earlier this week, the provincial government began testing soil from the fire zone to see what remains in the residue. It’s the first time Alberta has ever done environmental testing in a residential area destroyed by a forest fire.
Studies done in California after major fires in 2003 and 2007 suggest what could be found. Research in the U.S. state found levels of lead, arsenic and antimony that exceeded Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Potentially toxic hydrocarbon residues were also discovered.
Some of those residues can be carcinogenic. Others attack the nervous system as well as the lungs, kidneys and liver.
Ash from the fires was also found to be so alkaline it was caustic, threatening eyes, noses and lungs — as well as watersheds.
In California, residents were first allowed to return to their properties for a one-hour maximum and had to wear protective suits provided by the Red Cross.
The document Slave Lake residents have to sign says that they "acknowledge and understand that as a result of the damage to the property there exists around the town of Slave Lake and surrounding areas inherent risks of damage or injury due to the conditions of the damaged property and essential services.
“We understand and acknowledge that the town of Slave Lake will not be required or be able to ensure all sites and properties are safe, nor provide for essential services for the foreseeable future.”
Alberta officials say results from the heavy metals testing were received Thursday. They have not been made public. Test results for other contaminants, including dioxins and furans, are expected Monday.
Pillay-Kinnee said soil testing is part of an overall assessment of the environmental legacy left by the fire.
“If we do get a heavy rainfall, where do those ashes go and what potential hazards would that cause to our sewer and water system?” she asked. “Many of us understand that in a disaster like this, there’s definitely going to be some need for an environmental assessment.”
She acknowledged that finding heavy metals or other residues could affect the cleanup.
“It could potentially delay. We’d have to look at how we’re going to clean that up and make it a safe place.”
Pillay-Kinnee said many residents are eager to visit the sites of their former homes, some to search for mementoes and some to start rebuilding. But people are being patient, she added.
"It looks pretty contained right now with the fencing and people are being pretty responsible accessing that site. I think people generally understand the gravity of the situation. "