City taking soil samples on site where drums were found

Restoring flow of Howitt Creek until construction resumes

Guelph, ON, Monday, October 20 – This week, the City will begin taking soil samples from the site where construction crews found and removed eight 170-litre (45-gallon) drums of chemicals last month.

Discovering the drums

On September 2 and 3, eight 170-litre (45-gallon) drums of chemicals were found on a construction site near the Wellington/Hanlon interchange. The City contained the liquid and affected soil immediately and notified the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). The City used clean soil to back fill the area. The liquid was transported from the site for disposal on September 5 and affected soil was transported for disposal on September 9 and 10.

Site scans and soil samples

On September 18, the City used electro-magnetic and ground penetrating radar surveys to study the construction zone near the Wellington/Hanlon interchange. The results show seven locations where the City could find large metal objects, and smaller metal objects were also detected along the project route.

“We’re taking all necessary precautions before doing any more digging,” said Kealy Dedman, City Engineer. “Based on the survey results we expect to find large metal objects, and we’ll have a spill response team on site for any materials we need to remove, contain or transport for safe disposal.”

As the regulatory agency involved, the MOECC approved the City’s plan to dig eight test-pits and analyze the soil in the area before resuming full-scale construction activity.The construction zone travels through three historic landfill sites and the City will clean up any materials found in the area as required by MOECC.

The City will report the soil sample results to the MOECC before making any further plans to resume construction of the Paisley-Clythe watermain.

“Our next steps will depend on the results of the soil analysis, and we’ll continue updating the community as we prepare to resume construction,” said Dedman.

Map of approximate test pit locations Paisley-Clythe feedermain

Work near Howitt Creek to begin October 22

Also this week, the City will remove a temporary bypass pipe from Howitt Creek to restore its normal flow until full-scale construction resumes. The pipe was being used to restrict and redirect the flow of Howitt Creek during construction. This practice is common, and was approved by the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).

On September 21, with the flow of the creek restricted, heavy rain caused Howitt Creek to overflow and send water into the construction site. An Environmental Protection Officer inspected the area. The officer did not see any discharge from the excavated area or evidence of contaminated material flowing into Howitt Creek or downstream, but noted partial erosion of the bank separating the area from the creek.

The City contacted the MOECC about removing the pipe, and a Provincial Officer inspected the area on September 22. The Ministry has approved plans to remove the pipe, install a liner and use clean fill and rock or rubble to prevent further erosion and overflow.

Residents can report spills involving chemicals, oil, paint or any other suspicious materials by calling the Ministry’s Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

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Media Contact

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