Cleanup of contaminated soil under old F.H. Collins wraps up

Government estimates workers dug up 3,800 cubic metres of dirty soil

Environment Yukon says it spent $1.8 million cleaning up soil and groundwater contaminated by leaking fuel under the old F.H. Collins High School in Riverdale.

The excavation of the contaminated soil that started in June is now complete, department spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn said in a statement Sept. 15.

A total of 3,801 cubic metres of dirty soil was excavated. Around three million litres of shallow groundwater was pumped and treated.

“Backfilling of the excavated area with clean and imported material has begun and is expected to be complete by the end of September,” the statement says.

The mess was uncovered this summer when crews were demolishing the old high school. Staff originally expected to find about 100 cubic metres of contaminated soil left behind after two spills from the oil fire heating system in 2008 and 2009. The system was removed in 2009.

Instead of a relatively small spill, crews discovered that the old heating system had small holes in its lines which leaked more fuel into the soil.

No one knows how long the old system had been leaking before it was removed.

Environment Yukon plans to install groundwater monitoring wells in October or November, the statement says.

To date, 1,650 cubic metres of that excavated soil has been sent to a facility to be treated. The rest will be sent there by the end of September.

City of Whitehorse staff have been monitoring the nearby aquifer, where the city gets its drinking water, but there are no signs of that water being contaminated.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com