The orders follow recent soil sampling commissioned by the province in uninhabited and unremediated portions of the former Domtar wood-processing plant site north of Yellowhead Trail, near Hermitage Road. Dioxins, furans and polyaromatichydrocarbons have been found in some samples. In large amounts or over long periods of time, exposure to these chemicals can have adverse health impacts.
Although no contaminants are known to be in nearby residential areas and it is not believed there is an immediate risk to the public, as a precautionary action, Alberta Health Services has ordered the site’s owners and developers — 1510837 Alberta Ltd. and Cherokee Canada Inc. — to fence off the site to minimize potential health risks to the public.
Alberta Environment and Parks is also directing the companies, including former owner Domtar, to conduct additional environmental sampling, create action plans to remove contamination and conduct human health risk assessments. Orders also affect a greenbelt southeast of the site, now owned by the City of Edmonton.
Out of caution, the government is also ordering testing and analysis of soil in nearby residential communities. If unsafe chemical levels are found, the province will take further action as necessary.
Letters detailing government’s actions, how the province will continue to keep residents informed throughout the process and the precautions residents can take while awaiting test results are being hand-delivered to area residents today. Precautions residents are being asked to take include avoiding accessing the site, minimizing exposure to soil and washing backyard-grown vegetables.
Between 1924 and 1987, Domtar operated on the property, treating wood with creosote and other chemicals. In 1991, Domtar completed a partial reclamation of the property, then sold the property in 2010 to the numbered company.
In 2013, a remediation certificate was issued for a portion of the site historically used for storing treated products. A new residential area has since been developed on this portion of the property. The orders issued today relate to adjacent properties and not this redeveloped property. In the coming weeks, Alberta Environment and Parks plans to conduct additional sampling in this redeveloped area and to audit this remediation certificate.
In late 2016, the province issued an Environmental Protection Order and an Enforcement Order compelling, amongst other things, the companies to obtain additional information to inform and take remedial actions. The companies appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board and those orders are currently stayed.