Public Health fields gardening questions following AIM fire

Health officials are fielding questions from Saint John gardeners who remain on edge following an industrial fire at American Iron and Metal (AIM).

Flames at the facility in the city’s port broke out on Sept. 14, causing massive plumes of smoke to fill the skies over the city’s uptown.

As an independent task force, appointed by Premier Blaine Higgs, investigates the fire, questions are coming in from area gardeners.

Health officials are now providing advice and information in response to questions received from the public.

“A consultant has been retained to conduct soil sampling from several community gardens in Saint John and the surrounding area,” the province said.

“This is being done as part of the overall response to the fire and as part of the task force investigation.”

The province said soil testing will only be carried out on designated public community gardens.

Sampling will be concentrated in the parts of the city most affected by smoke as the fire progressed.

Until samples can be obtained and results are received, the province has offered the following suggestions:

  • Anyone choosing to harvest garden crops should wash them well and keep them frozen until test results are available. Alternatively, these crops could be discarded into regular garbage.
  • People choosing to compost garden crops or soil should consider keeping them separate from existing compost until test results are available.
  • People should wash their hands thoroughly after handling crops or soil.

New Brunswick said the same voluntary recommendations apply to private gardens.

“These are recommendations only and should be considered voluntary until otherwise directed,” officials said.

“There is no definitive timeline for the testing process.”

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