September 27, 2004

Further tests begin after creosote found in residential area of Prince Albert

Saskatchewan Environment has begun taking soil samples from private properties in a residential area in the northeastern area of Prince Albert after a round of environmental tests thus summer detected deeply-buried pockets of creosote. The substance was found at depths between 15 and 17 feet, in two samples taken on public property in the neighborhood. Other samples in the area, including five in a park area, showed no contamination.

Saskatchewan Environment, in co-operation with the City of Prince Albert, conducted the testing as part of a monitoring program in the city's Riverview section. The program is part of a continuing assessment of areas adjacent to known creosote contamination on the former sites of two wood treatment facilities, south and west of the neighbourhood.

The positive samples found this summer are believed to be associated with an old drainage channel, now filled in, that likely functioned as a sewer many years ago. Aerial photos show this channel as a continuation of a channel draining the former Saskatchewan Forest Products and Domtar wood treatment sites, which were then on the city's outskirts.

"It's important for people to understand that creosote, at the concentrations and depth of these samples, does not pose a risk to residents' health," said Joe Muldoon, executive director of Saskatchewan Environment's environmental protection division. "We want to collect additional information to find out exactly how much creosote is present, and where, then work with the city and those affected to determine appropriate next steps."

The follow-up sampling to determine whether creosote is present on any private properties began last week in several residential yards. A drilling rig, small enough to be mounted on an all-terrain vehicle, is being used to take the samples.

Results from the new sampling will be made public as soon as they are available, likely by mid-October.

More information is available from Joe Muldoon at Saskatchewan Environment, 306/787-6178.

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