The mystery chemical that gave a town in western Labrador a scare on Saturday after it was sprayed on a nearby ski hill has been identified as the weed killer Roundup.
The town of Labrador City initially closed the trails and roads around the Smokey Mountain ski hill after learning an unidentified spray had been used on the area.
“Now we’re satisfied that we’ve got all the information and that public safety has not been jeopardized,” said Mayor Karen Oldford. “But to err on the side of caution is always what we’ll do when it comes to public health and safety.”
Oldford said the town has since reopened the road leading to Smokey Lake, though it is still warning residents and visitors to stay off the ski runs.
The chemical spray Roundup WeatherMAX is a popular, water-soluble herbicide that can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes. Safety sheets show it is generally safe to re-enter a sprayed area after 12 hours.
Oldford said the volunteer group responsible for running the Smokey Mountain Ski Runs did not apply for a permit before hiring a company to spray the area, which makes up part of the town’s watershed.
Plans within the town’s watershed area must be vetted by Labrador City’s water specialist.
“All of this could have been avoided if people would realize that any time you do anything within our municipal boundaries — whether you’re in a cabin or in your house — you need to have a permit,” she said.
As for possible repercussions against the group, Oldford said she has yet to discuss that topic with town staff.
“I think (the group has) learned a big lesson already by having to go through this whole process,” she said.
“They’re a group of volunteers and they’re our community. They’re doing their best as well.”