New seepage suspected at former Belle Park dump
by Rob Tripp
|Kingston’s controversial, waterfront garbage dump has sprung a new leak into the Cataraqui River.
The Ministry of Environment informed city staff this week of possible new seepage from the former Belle Park property. The site is at the south end of the park, near a large storm sewer pipe, said Paul MacLatchy, the city’s environmental engineer.
“We were advised that there may be a new seepage at that location and so I asked Malroz [Engineering] to go out and investigate and there is a new seepage,” MacLatchy said yesterday.
“At this point, we believe it’s just leakage out of the side of the sewer pipe.”
A concrete storm sewer, more than a metre in diameter, discharges into the river at the marshy, riverfront spot, near the border of the Davis Tannery property.
In 1998, the city was fined $150,000 for allowing the old dump to leak into the river. The convictions stemmed from charges laid by private citizen Janet Fletcher and the provincial Ministry of the Environment.
Groundwater and rain percolating through layers of garbage flow out of the property into the river.
The city is appealing the conviction and fine, arguing the dump discharges pose no environmental threat. A court date hasn’t been set for the appeal.
A technician from Malroz, wearing rubber gloves and equipped with coolers, vials and small jars was at the site at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, taking samples.
MacLatchy said tests will be done for a variety of toxins, including heavy metals, PCBs and organic contaminants.
“It’s a full range of analysis,” he said, adding that the results will be made public.
MacLatchy said Malroz staff, who are under contract to the city to monitor the site, walk the perimeter of the dump each week to check for new leaks. It’s possible this leak wasn’t detected until now because it wasn’t visible until the level of the river dropped, he said.
The city has spent more than $2 million since 1997 to monitor and control the flow of fluid escaping from the site, although officials have refused to disclose the city’s ongoing legal bill in the fight against pollution charges.
Large pilings and sheeting was installed at some points along the dump’s perimeter and underground wells were constructed to capture fluid leaking out of the dump before it flows into the river.
MacLatchy said there’s also an old, underground culvert in the vicinity of this new seepage. It’s not known when or why the culvert was installed but money has been set aside to rip it out.
“One of the capital projects we have is to decommission that old steel culvert,” he said.
The Belle Park dump operated until 1974. After it closed, the city turned the old waste mounds into a nine-hole golf course. The dump was closed in accordance with environmental rules in place at the time.