Mysterious substance found near Sturgeon River
Grey, blue, and stinks
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 08:45 pm
City crews broke out the booms and pump trucks Wednesday to contain a mysterious substance spilled on the banks of the Sturgeon River.
A local resident called the city at about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday to report an unidentified substance by outfall No. 3 near the BMX track in the Riel Industrial Park, said city environment and sustainability manager Leah Kongsrude. Crews installed a grit interceptor at this spot last winter, so it was very open and visible.
The substance was much different than previous reported spills, Kongsrude said.
“It’s not like an oily sheen or sediment,” she said, and it appears to be separating into layers. It’s grey with a blue tinge, seems powdery, and smells like sewage.
“It’s a little bit more unusual than what we (usually) deal with,” she said.
The spill appears to be a one-time event as it’s not continuously flowing and has pooled at the end of the outfall about 50 metres from the river, Kongsrude said. None of it appears to have reached the main body of the river. Some of it was trapped in the grit interceptor itself.
“Right now the priority is to contain and remove it,” Kongsrude said.
Crews have contained the spill with booms and are sucking it up with a vacuum truck. They’ve already filled one 10 cubic metre truck tank with the stuff, and expect to fill another – that’s 20,000 litres of contaminated fluid, or enough to fill 120 bathtubs.
“It is rather a lot,” she said.
Crews have ruled out the interceptor and its installation as the source of the substance, and do not believe it is leachate from the old landfill closer to Ray Gibbon Drive.
“It’s definitely not an area where we’ve had issue with leachate expressions before,” Kongsrude said.
The substance had a different colour and texture from previous leachate releases.
The city suspects this was something dumped into the sewer system from the Grandin or Riel Park region, which feeds into this outlet.
Samples of the spill material have been sent for testing, with results expected in about a week. Alberta Environment has been notified of the spill.
Crews will search upstream of the outfall to try and find the source of the spill but might never find its origin, Kongsrude said.
“It could be as simple as somebody dumping a pail of paint.”
This was the second unidentified spill to happen near the Sturgeon in two months. In August an unidentified hydrocarbon was spilled into the Sturgeon River near the Boudreau Bridge. An investigation into its source is ongoing.