Province has had enough with Gas Plus
Alberta has given the owners of a former Bowness gas station a firm order to clean up the site after rejecting an appeal from the company.
The appeal was submitted to the Environmental Appeals Board in November 2011.
Alberta Water and Environment Minister Diana McQueen said in a release that the order requires the company to take aggressive action to clean up the site. "It is important that Bowness residents get closure to a situation that has been unacceptable for far too long."
The provincial order requires the company to confirm the location all of the contaminated material, remove it, and begin a remediation program for the remainder of the property.
In addition to the order, the Alberta Health Services will also be able to work with a broader indoor air quality sampling area which will include more homes and businesses and devote an independent qualified professional to the task.
The issue with the Gas Plus station all started when an estimated 9,000 litres of fuel started leaking from underground tanks into the soil.
As a result, residents nearby complained of gas fumes in their basements and several building permits have been held up ever since the leak was found in May 2010.
At that time, the company said the leak was the size of a pinhole and claim they responded immediately to the problem.
However, in December, residents in the area still complained about the fumes. "We didn't know what it was. We though it might've been a new laundry detergent. We though it migh have been the new fabric softener. Go thru everything making sure there's not paint in the house, trying to narrowing it down, that type of thing, before we realized it was coming out of the well," said Terry Floate.
At that time, Alberta Environment slapped the company with an environmental protection order for failing to remediate contamination on and off its property.
The company was given an order to clean up by March 2011, but project delays forced that to be pushed back to the end of June 2011.
Following that deadline, the province worked out a deal with the company to build a concrete retaining wall around the contaminated soil instead of removing it from the ground.
The problem took a turn for the worse in January 2011 when three families had to be evacuated from their homes until the clean up was finished due to dangerous levels of fuel in the ground.
In March, the final report hadn't been completed on the site so any remediation efforts were stalled, causing businesses in the area to become concerned.
Patience Gold, owner of Afrikana Beauty Supplies, and her husband Rick Gold began to talk with other business owners about their concerns with the leak.
"I think from what I gather, these kinds of toxic spills can be dangerous to your health," said another area business owner J.D. Esler. "A good clean-up, you wonder if that's enough."