Lost somewhere in the heat of the local election was the fascinating and disturbing discovery of eight drums with an unknown, possibly toxic chemicals, near Howitt Creek at the corner of Wellington St. and the Hanlon. Watermain maintenance led to the discovery of the drums and a scramble to determine if any contaminants were in the environment began, and construction in the area came to a halt as tests were undertaken by government agencies. But examination of the site is now complete and plans have begun to have all the remaining drums removed, the contents dealt with, and construction to continue on the project.Here's the press release from the City of Guelph:
Guelph, ON, November 24, 2014 – The City has completed an examination of the site where construction crews found and removed eight drums of chemicals. The site examination and soil analysis results are being used to develop a plan to remove more buried drums and debris from the area.
“We didn’t encounter any liquid during the examination, but we did find and remove another drum. We also confirmed the presence of at least one more buried drum,” said Kealy Dedman, City Engineer. “The results of the site examination and soil analysis tell us what substances we’re dealing with, and now we can make a plan to remove and safely dispose of more buried drums, debris, soil and fill material.”
According the site examination report by MMM Consulting, the area has been impacted by historic industrial and landfill activities but, in its current condition, the soil poses no risk to the public. On November 18, The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) indicated the report’s conclusions and recommendations are appropriate for planning to remove the drums and resume construction.
The examination of 10 test-pits found some evidence of substances commonly found on sites with a history of industrial or landfill activity; metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Limited amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and petroleum hydrocarbon compounds (PHC) were found at one location.
The soil was tested for more than 100 substances, 15 of which were found to exceed the provincial standard for commercial/industrial sites—12 of these substances are typically associated with charcoal, cinders, ashes or coal-burning operations, and three of the substances are usually associated with solvents. The soil poses no risk to the public in its current condition, and the substances will be addressed in the action plan to remove the materials as required by the MOECC.
A proposed action plan will be submitted the MOECC on Friday, December 5. Once the plan is approved, the City will update the community about cleanup and construction activities to take place in 2015.
While construction in the affected area has been paused, crews are working on other parts of the Paisley-Clythe watermain project. The completion time for the entire project has not changed significantly, and updates on the City’s progress are posted at guelph.ca/construction
Discovering the drums
On September 2 and 3, eight 170-litre (45-gallon) drums of chemicals were found on a construction site near the Wellington/Hanlon interchange. The City contained the liquid and affected soil immediately and notified the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The City used clean soil to back fill the area. The liquid was transported from the site for disposal on September 5 and affected soil was transported for disposal on September 9 and 10.