Unknown liquid unearthed during construction near Wellington Street

No threat to public safety during site clean-up

Guelph, ON, September 3, 2014 – Yesterday morning, crews working on the construction of the Paisley-Clythe feedermain discovered two 170-litre (45-gallon) drums buried underground. While digging a trench for a new watermain, one of the two barrels was punctured, releasing an unknown liquid.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) was notified immediately. The leak was contained quickly, and none of the material reached the nearby Howitt Creek.

A small quantity of the liquid was sent to a local lab to be identified, about 125 litres (33 gallons) was pumped into a temporary storage container, and the City established a containment area for any contaminated soil. Once the liquid is identified, the City can determine how to remove these materials from the site and dispose of them safely.

“We’re working closely with the MOECC to ensure the area is safe, and there is no threat to public safety,” said Majde Qaqish, the City’s project engineer. “We expect to receive the test results later today, and from there we will determine how to dispose of the materials.”

The City is also conducting a geophysical survey on the rest of the site to locate any more drums or other underground objects.

“Knowing the area north of Wellington Street West is an historic landfill we expected to discover some underground debris. We conducted geotechnical scans every 40-50 metres before starting excavation,” said Qaqish. “We’re working with the MOECC to remove and dispose of these two drums, and anything else we find in a safe and responsible manner.”

The City sent the following action plan to the MOECC to ensure proper containment, cleanup, removal and disposal of the materials:

  • Identify removal and disposal options for the collected liquid, including waste registration for off-site disposal.
  • Remove  accumulated precipitation from the trench, chamber and pipe to a separate temporary storage tank and identify appropriate management options.
  • Remove the intact drum and any contaminated soil to the prepared containment area for testing and disposal.
  • The contractor working on the site is authorized to transport and dispose of some classes of waste, and the City will retain a separate contractor if necessary.

The City will post updates about this project, including the test results and plans to clean up the site at guelph.ca/construction.

Media contact

Kealy Dedman
City Engineer, City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2248
kealy.dedman@guelph.ca