Mystery substance on river deemed 'non-hazardous'
| Posted: Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 03:30 pm
Tests have found the substance found floating on the Sturgeon River last week to be non-hazardous.
“Results show that the substance was likely a refined hydrocarbon but concentrations are below environmental limits set for the protection of aquatic life,” said a news release issued by the city Tuesday. The exact composition of the substance is not yet known.
Leah Kongsrude, manager of environment and sustainability for St. Albert, said refined hydrocarbons means “it was likely something to do with petroleum product,” products such as gasoline or engine oil.
Officials had initially reported last week that the substance didn’t appear to be hydrocarbon-based because it had no vapours and didn’t stick to anything.
For now, absorbent booms will stay on the river. Kongsrude explained that these booms absorb organic compounds. She said the booms will remain probably until the city is done using a camera to investigate the underground pipe system, checking for potential sources of the release.
“It’s not an ongoing release so we believe it was a one-time thing, so most of it is probably caught at this point,” she said.
As for the origin of the substance, it’s possible that will never be known for sure.
“The outfall that this release originated from, it covers a very, very large area. We haven’t really pinpointed it at this point,” she said.
The spill was reported the evening of Aug. 7 by a resident who noticed a “shiny film” on the Sturgeon over a large area upstream and downstream of the Boudreau Bridge. In addition to fire services and Environment Canada, the city also brought in Quantum Murray, a company that specializes in environmental incidents, to do testing.
Environment Canada is continuing to monitor water quality results. Kongsrude said the federal agency is conducting its own inspection.