WHEREAS fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid pain medication; and
WHEREAS carfentanil is a highly potent analogue of fentanyl; and
WHEREAS fentanyl and its analogues pose significant hazard, potentially fatal, to persons who come into contact with minuscule amounts via inhalation, ingestion or skin contact; and
WHEREAS there is rapid rise in illegal production and consumption of fentanyl and carfentanil; and
WHEREAS the products are often produced in buildings not designed for this activity, which increases risks of contamination and building damage; and
WHEREAS buildings that house fentanyl labs pose complex challenges for cleaning and remediation; and
WHEREAS municipalites are being asked to inspect and certify that fentanyl contaminated dwellings are safe for habitation; and
WHEREAS no standard is established to define or guide this certification;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) request the Government of Alberta to establish defined standards and consistent regulated approaches for inspecting property contaminated by fentanyl or carfentanil.
Sturgeon County remains committed to working with the Government of Alberta to maintain safe communities. The presence and exposure of drug labs has created some public safety concerns regarding several issues, including their presence in communities with children, remediation, and the danger of third-party exposure. Currently there is no clear jurisdiction, protocol or standards to determine that a remediated building is safe for employees, residents or human habitation. Since no standards exist, remediation efforts have been put on hold. As more drug labs are exposed, we believe this experience is or will likely become common amongst other counties and municipal districts across Alberta.
Therefore, the intent of this resolution is to advocate for the development of standards and consistent regulated approaches to ensure that properties contaminated by fentanyl, carfentanil, or other toxic substances are remediated and meet the requirements to be declared safe for entry and habitation.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
The GoA thanks the Rural Municipalities of Alberta for highlighting the need for clearly established guidance for handling fentanyl contaminated property.
Alberta Health (AH), which is leading the provincial response to the opioid crisis, has received a similar recommendation from the Minister’s Opioid Emergency Response Commission. Specifically, the Commission requests the development of provincial evidence-based guidance on appropriate personal protective equipment, as well as standards for remediation of fentanyl contaminated sites, such as buildings and vehicles.
A variety of professionals and agencies may come into direct contact with fentanyl contaminated sites in Alberta, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, municipal and indigenous police services, Alberta Health Services and private remediation contractors. Multiple ministries within the GoA are also impacted by, and share the need for, safe fentanyl remediation (e.g., Justice and Solicitor General, Alberta Labour, MA, Alberta Infrastructure and AH).
AH is leading the development of a guideline that will enable remediation of sites contaminated by fentanyl to be implemented in a safe, practical and consistent manner. Currently, there is a lack of adequate sources of guidance for fentanyl remediation in Alberta, and there is also a lack of established standards in other North American jurisdictions. Existing guidelines for handling marijuana grow operations or methamphetamine contaminated properties are insightful but inadequate for the purpose of fentanyl.
Given the novel nature of fentanyl remediation in North America, AH issued a public Request for Information (RFI) in April 2018 that encouraged vendors to suggest:
The RFI closed on May 22, 2018, and AH is reviewing responses to determine next steps. This may include a Request for Proposal to acquire professional services for immediate project initiation.
End products will be developed in collaboration with experts and stakeholders with the intention of supporting multiple government sectors and agencies to meet their mandates.
Alberta Municipal Affairs
Alberta Municipal Affairs (MA) has no further input beyond the response from AH.
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (JSG) has no further input beyond the response from AH.
The Government of Alberta response indicates that Alberta Health is aware of the lack of guidance related to the remediation of fentanyl-contaminated properties and is in the process of developing an approach or mechanism to address this issue. As of December 2019, Alberta Health staff indicated that a guide was finalized and awaiting ministerial approval. RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted in Principle and will monitor Alberta Health’s progress in releasing the guide.