Coffee at Steel Plant Made With Water Directly From St. Mary’s River

A memo sent to Algoma Steel employees early Monday evening is advising workers that coffee served at an on-site canteen at the Plate & Strip mill was made with water directly sourced from the St. Mary’s River.

The advisory came from the office of Laura Devoni, Algoma’s Director of Corporate Affairs & Sustainability.

It is believed the water was used for about six weeks after an incorrect line was inadvertently connected to the canteen water supply.

The canteen has been closed since March 14 after the issue was identified during routine repairs. 

Devoni’s memo reads, “At that time we discovered that water used to prepare coffee and in warming trays in the canteen was mistakenly supplied by river water instead of our usual potable supply.  We immediately discontinued the use of water at the facility and later closed the facility.”

The memo goes on to state: “..river water is not subject to the same filtering and cleaning as potable water and bacteria was present in samples tested.”

Water samples were sent for independent testing and we engaged with Algoma Public Health and union representatives.  We are currently flushing the system and working with Algoma Public Health and independent water testing to obtain assurances of water quality before reopening the canteen,” outlined Devoni.

Devoni acknowledges in the advisory that the news is unsettling but says Algoma Steel has “..not received any reports of illness.”

Devoni assured workers  “..the water connected to the canteen is NOT used as drinking water, nor to wash produce and was used primarily as water for coffee, in warming trays and washing dishes.  Produce is pre-washed by our foodservice supplier.”

An investigation is underway.

The canteen is expected to re-open later this week.

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