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Province provides West Hillhurst residents with update on creosote contamination
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 7:02PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, September 14, 2018 2:04PM MDT
The long term impact of decades-old contamination from a wood treatment plant south of the Bow River continues to be studied in the neighbourhood across the waterway.
The provincial government hosted an information session Thursday evening at the West Hillhurst Community Association to advise residents of the findings of the first year in their five-year monitoring study.
Jamie Hanlon, communications advisor with the Government of Alberta, says the study is being conducted to gather data to provide a broader view of the contamination’s scope, to allow a comprehensive assessment of human health risk and to guide future decisions on site management.
“We have a very good working relationship with the residents within West Hillhurst. This is part of that commitment that we’ve made to them, to inform them as to the results we are finding,” said Hanlon. “We’re here to, more than anything, let them know what’s going on, what we’ve found, answer any questions or alleviate any concerns they may have regarding testing, regarding the results.”
The Canada Creosote Plant operated, in what is now known as the West Village, for nearly 40 years until it closed in the mid-1960s but the plant’s footprint remains.
The province installed 30 wells in the West Hillhurst-area to test contamination levels. Hanlon says the creosote contamination readings in the area have remained relatively constant over the years. The levels are considered safe but do exceed the amounts found at other locations where creosote contaminations occurred. “Our 2017 sampling program was very similar to the 2014 sampling program. What we’ve found from these results, which we’ve recently received and reviewed, is that the values we are finding are within historic ranges for the sampling we’ve done over the decades in that community.”
“There’s a contamination in the ground water in exceedances of levels of types of contamination you would find normally with creosote contamination. We typically will do soil vapor monitoring to ensure that there aren’t any problems with that.”
The five-year monitoring project is expected to cost $1.3 million.
Some residents question what the long term fix will be and who will foot the bill for the cleanup cost.
“Whoever the owners of that plant were, they’re not going to pay for it,” said Roger Macleod. “They’re long gone.”
“I’m not aware of any impact except we know it’s below our houses.”
Thursday’s ‘Assessing potential off-site impacts from the former Canada Creosote Operation’ information session was scheduled to conclude at 8:30 p.m. Residents who were unable to attend the session are encouraged to visit North Bow Environmental Monitoring Program to review the findings.
“Our subject matter experts, the Environment and Parks staff, are always willing to take a call to answer any questions or concerns they may have,” said Hanlon.
With files from CTV’s Jaclyn Brown