Osmose cleanup progressing

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Work progresses to remediate contaminated land in Faust previously operated by the Alberta Osmose Wood Preservers Ltd.

Big Lakes County council was updated by Alberta Environment and Parks at its regular meeting Jan. 24.

“I think by the end of July, we can have something we can all be proud of to protect that site and make it safe for people to use,” says Norbert Raffael, AEP northern district resources manager.

“I think we’re making a lot of progress, we want the site under control.”

Faust was the location of a wood-treating and wood-preserving site from 1961-69 before a fire and explosion closed the operation.

Several products known to cause cancer were used to treat the wood. The 1969 fire was the main cause of dispersal of contaminants. Future testing indicated that the closer to the actual site, the higher the contamination.

“Hopefully we can have something so we can use it,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

“It will still be restricted by regulations, and will likely be used mostly for something like walking trails.”

He says he is happy to see the government has worked on the site the last three years after many decades.

Another councillor agrees.

“I’m happy that work is being done because it’s been a concern by the community,” Faust Councillor Robert Nygaard says.

He adds residents have some ideas for the site.

“We want to make it something useful for the community, such as walking trails and interpretive signs about local history.”

Remedial work on the site continues under the eye of environmental consultants Millennium EMS Solutions Ltd.

“We are going to flag the risks and then we will control them by capping,” says Colleen Purtill, risk assessor.

“We want to develop a plan to be able to clean up the site and create a space for day use with walking trails.”

Millennium is currently drafting a human health and ecological-risk assessment.

She says an exposure plan is scheduled to be finalized by Feb. 28 to allow AEP to hire another contractor to do the remedial work.

“We want to make sure the worst case scenarios are protected,” says risk assessor Ian Mitchell.

“If it is capped, it will probably be clay.”

Higher levels of protection would be applied to higher levels of contamination, Mitchell says.

Some areas of the site would remain prohibited for human use because of extreme high levels.

Raffael says the cost of the work has probably reached $1 million since 1989.


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