Salt cleanup coming in 2014
Mayor wants to avoid future environmental problems
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 06:00 am
The mayor wants to make sure St. Albert never again has to incur the expense of cleaning up an environmental problem on city-owned land.
On Monday night council approved Nolan Crouse’s call for the cleanup of its old public works site in Riel Business Park. Council has asked the city’s environment department to come back with a plan by June 1.
The problem, since the city moved its public works yard to Campbell Business Park in 1998, has been the contamination of the soil by the road salt the city kept stocked at the Riel site in the 26 years the site was in operation.
More specifically, the former site is immediately across from the Sturgeon River. The city has been monitoring the site for several years on order from Alberta Environment, but small concentrations of salt have started showing up in the banks of the river.
“Some of the salt has made it to the river but in low concentrations on that site,” said Leah Jackson, the city’s environmental manager. “That’s the good news. We just have to make sure we don’t get a huge rush of highly concentrated salt rushing to the river.”
The city will, in 2014, spend $800,000 to remove some but not all of the contaminated soil. Jackson said the remediation plan will focus on “hot spots,” where concentration is highest. In total 2,000 cubic metres of dirt will be removed and trucked to the landfill.
The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact the city no longer owns the land. It sold it in 2000 to what is now Riel Park Storage.
Crouse also asked for the city to prepare a policy for the current public works yard, as well as the city’s snow storage site on the Badger lands and any future similar properties, so that future councils don’t end up spending large amounts of money to clean up similar problems.
“We cannot repeat another public works site,” said Crouse. “We have to have a policy in place so that public works sites are properly planned for.”
Jackson said St. Albert is much more cautious with its road salt now than it used to be. The salt is stored on a shed, which has been erected over asphalt to prevent similar contamination. While salt scraped up from the roads during plowing can turn up at the Badger lands, Jackson said she plans to study both sites next year to get an idea of the city’s liabilities.
“We’ve really decreased the amount of salt we use and we’re much smarter about how we store it,” Jackson said.