Environmental Clean Up of the Port Stanley Harbour Lands – An Update

Update prepared by Coun. Dan McNeil, Ward 1, on behalf of Central Elgin Municipal Council

Port Stanley harbour

There is a constant concern among the public that nothing will ever happen with the necessary clean up of Port Stanley’s harbour lands. It was four years ago that I first received the previously “confidential” reports detailing the historic industrial contamination that exists.

Now nothing is being hidden. You can go to the Central Elgin website, and find all the information is available in a document called the “Port Stanley Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan-December 2010” (completed by the federally contracted firm, CH2M Hill).

If you would like to see this information in the traditional way a paper copy can be viewed at the Port Stanley Public library or at the CE municipal office.

As of September last year Central Elgin owns the harbour lands. We are attempting to be very diligent in ensuring we get the clean up we deserve. One of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers, Diane Saxe, has been retained by CE. She will help us deal with the important environmental issues embedded in the Harbour Divestiture
Agreement completed last September 2010.

Recently CE Council members and staff met in Toronto with federal officials to receive an update on the plans for the clean up. First, everyone needs to know this is being done with the full participation of Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment following Ontario’s very rigorous processes for dealing with former industrial sites – ‘brownfields’.

Second, we should be confident that the contamination is actually not
that serious that we need to put up fences and block access to the public. Most of the property is relatively clean. There are specific areas where property uses involved petroleum and Urea Ammonium Nitrate (UAN – fertilizer). Thus, the contamination is mostly petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

Many attended a public session last December hosted by CH2M Hill. The presentation was also on the CE website and included an indicative time line for “completion of the localized remediation risk”. We did not know, and still don’t, what kinds of activities would be involved in this work. Examples of activity could include digging up and removal of contaminated material, the addition of new uncontaminated topsoil,
‘capping’ of localized areas with clay and pavement, landscaping and the planting of trees.

The majority of the work would probably take place on the east headland, the ‘berm’, where we have a commitment to clean up to parkland standard, which should include the provision of parkland infrastructure. This work was to take place in 2012.

We now know that this will not happen in 2012. Ontario’s MOE raised their environmental clean up standards to a higher level in July 2011. The federal government was not able to complete sufficient work to be ready enough to stay within the old standards.

They have decided to do the necessary extra research activity to re-submit an entirely new “Risk Assessment and Management Plan” under
the new tougher regulation. New environmental site assessments and ground water studies will be conducted and completed in 2011 looking towards a new submission late in 2012.

Central Elgin will probably consider having another public information session when all the new data is available and we have better information as what kind of “remediation’’ will occur on the property. This would probably not occur until the fall of 2012. In the meantime we have established the CE “Harbour Vision Committee” which includes broad participation locally and regionally.

The meetings of the Harbour Vision Committee will normally be open to the public. Members are very interested in seeing some positive changes with ownership of our new waterfront property. However, we now know that we cannot do any detailed planning for the east side for at least another year. This means we should attempt to move forward on other aspects of our harbour ownership. Further information on this process will be available in the new year.

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