July 30, 2007

Ottawa commits $214M to clean up contaminated sites in 2007-08

The federal government will direct $214 million toward the cleanup of contaminated sites across Canada. Federal Environment Minister John Baird announced the funding at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in British Columbia, where six sites will benefit from the investment.

The funds will be used to assess the condition of suspected sites, carry out necessary care and maintenance activities, and develop and implement a long-term strategy for dealing with the contamination found. Specific allocations include $189.3 million for remediation and risk management work at 279 priority contaminated sites under federal responsibility, plus $25 million for assessments of up to 417 sites to determine the next steps and the nature of scientific support needed to restore each site.

Examples of sites receiving substantial funding this year include the following.

*Faro mine, Yukon: The largest and highest-priority of the federal contaminated sites, Faro will receive $14.6 million in funding this year. Remediation planning is the most urgent task at this site, while care and maintenance activities will include continuing water treatment operations and infrastructure maintenance.

*CFB Esquimalt, BC: Six sites on the base are being allocated a total of $4.56 million. Work at these sites includes remediation of soils contaminated with hydrocarbons and heavy metals, plus assessment and risk management activities. Close to $200,000 will also be used to conduct assessments of sediment transport in Esquimalt harbour.

*Port Radium mine, Northwest Territories: The $7.1 million earmarked for this site will support remediation work, which is expected to start in the winter of 2007. It will include the sealing of mine openings, the covering of areas where elevated radiation levels have been detected, the stabilization of tailings areas, plus demolition and hazardous waste disposal.

*Belleville small craft harbour, Ontario: The $6.8 million to be invested in this site will address historic contamination and will include work to treat contaminated soil and prevent contaminants in groundwater from discharging into the adjacent Bay of Quinte. For over 50 years, Belleville harbour property was used for the storage of coal and fuel products and landfill sites. As a result of these activities, soil on the property was contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

Of the roughly 11,000 sites currently listed in the federal Contaminated Sites Inventory, over 6,000 have been assessed or classified under the National Classification System developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME). The full inventory may be viewed on-line at www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/dfrp-rbif/cs-sc/. A full list of the 279 priority sites that will receive funding for risk management and remediation in 2007-2008 may be viewed on Environment Canada's Web site, www.ec.gc.ca. These sites are classified as requiring action or likely to require action according to the CCME's National Classification System.

A smaller, but still significant, federal investment will provide a total of $3.4 million to enhance environmental protection measures at harbours throughout BC. This includes $300,000 for improvements at the False Creek Harbour facility plus $3.1 million for ten other small craft harbour sites throughout the province.

The funding will support a multi-year major capital project designed to intercept and mitigate land-based pollution before it affects the marine environment. Project components will involve improvements to upland drainage and containment, construction of underground services, and installation of drainage channels to manage stormwater run-off.

Runoff from parking areas, roads, vessel repair areas and storm drains often contains pollutants that contribute to sediment contamination in foreshore areas, persistent oil sheens and fish kills. Through a number of recent pilot projects, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)'s small craft harbours program has developed a "toolbox" of measures that can be used to prevent these pollutants from reaching the marine environment.

These control measures include installation of oil/water/sediment separators and vegetated drainage filters, use of pervious pavement that allows liquids to pass through, and the and detention of storm water discharges.

Some or all of these measures will be implemented at the following harbours between 2007 and 2012: Bella Coola, Campbell River, Comox, False Creek, French Creek, Ganges (Inner), Ladysmith, Port Edward, Port McNeill, Steveston and Tofino (4th Street).

Work at the False Creek small craft harbour facility will focus on the repair and reconstruction of the timber wharf structures at the site. Repairs will include replacing piles and wharf structural elements on the loading wharf, and reconstructing the pedestrian approaches to the moorage floats.

To date, the federal government has invested $9.3 million in improvements to small craft harbours in BC, including the latest $3.4 million allocation.

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