Thunder Bay was designated an Area of Concern in 1987 based on degraded water quality associated with pulp and mill waste matter and sediment contamination.
Chemicals of concern included:
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs)
Concerns relating to the contamination have included:
- restrictions on fish consumption
- negative pressures on fish populations
- loss of species diversity
- loss of recreational value.
The Thunder Bay AOC study area extends approximately 28 kilomitres along the shoreline of Lake Superior and up to nine kilometres offshore from the City of Thunder Bay. It also includes the Thunder Bay watershed, which is the land area drained by the Kaministiquia River system and a number of smaller rivers and creeks.
Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan History
1991 – Stage 1 Report was developed by the Thunder Bay RAP writing team comprised of Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This report identified beneficial use impairments in the Thunder Bay AOC.
2004 – Stage 2 Report was drafted by the former Lake Superior Programs Office with the assistance of the Thunder Bay RAP team and Public Advisory Committee. Water use goals and restoration actions to achieve these goals were outlined. A number of these projects have since been completed with several of them ongoing to date.
The Thunder Bay RAP program is now being facilitated by Lakehead University under the supervision and guidance of Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Natural Resources. The remedial actions undertaken and identified within the Stage 2 Report are currently in the process of being reviewed by the Thunder Bay AOC Public Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is an organization compiled of members of the public, including individuals, organizations, private citizens, academia, industry, recreational groups and property owners. Their review will provide recommendations to both the provincial and federal governments on how to proceed forward with the delisting of Thunder Bay as an Area of Concern.