Alberta mulls paving contaminated site for park

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is thinking about cleaning up a former wood-preserving site along one of the province’s biggest lakes by capping it off and turning the adjacent land into a park.

The contaminated site contains toxins including arsenic, dioxins and PCP at levels above Alberta guidelines for natural areas.

Government officials were to speak at a Big Lakes County meeting in Faust along the southern shore of Lesser Slave Lake on Tuesday night. They planned to explain how the site just east of the town could be returned to public use.

“We support the proposal for source capping,” said Jamie Hanlon, a spokesman for Alberta Environment and Parks.

The Osmose site covers about 16 hectares just south of the lake. A creek runs along its eastern boundary and homes sit further south.

The plant operated on it from 1963 to 1973. The province removed about 300 cubic metres of soil in 1993, but it wasn’t enough.

A 2015 engineering report done for the province found contamination remained, although it is declining with the years and has mostly been spread by dust from road traffic.

Still, the report said, about 20,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil remained to an average depth of four metres.

Hanlon said the same engineers said the best solution was to hold the chemicals in place with an impermeable clay cap. Part of that cap could be covered by a concrete parking lot.

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