There is contaminated soil throughout Whitehorse, a left-over mess from the days of the railroad, the army and trucking activities, said city councillor Florence Roberts.
“It dates back to 40 or 50 years ago,” said Roberts.
The city has two land-treatment facilities that are used to remove pollution from ground soil. Castle Rock Enterprises wants to build a third facility.
The company has asked the city for permission to operate a treatment facility at its gravel quarry site on the Haeckel Hill Ski Road.
The facility would be used to treat soil contaminated by gasoline or oil, and is expected to operate over a 50-year period, according to city documents.
In 2006, Castle Rock Enterprises was given permission by the territorial government to go ahead with the construction of the facility.
According to Environment department documents, an impermeable liner must be installed before any contaminated soil can be stored in one of three treatment “cells.”
The first cell, called the “staging cell,” is where contaminated soil will be initially placed and examined to determine the level of pollution and the type of treatment it will require.
The soil will then be moved to a “treatment cell” where it will be treated naturally by turning the soil and adding fertilizer where appropriate, city engineering services manager Wayne Tuck said during Monday night’s council meeting.
Soil that exceeds the recommended pollution level for treatment will be stored in a “special waste-containment cell,” or removed from the facility.
According to the same documents, an environmental protection officer must be allowed on site at any time to inspect the treatment process.
Soil sampling must be carried out according to specific protocol.
For example, incoming soil must be tested for gasoline or oil hydrocarbons within 30 days of it entering the facility.
Also, if any waste liquid is to be used to provide moisture to soil that is being treated, the liquid must be collected in a storage tank.
This is to prevent any leaching of gasoline and oil hydrocarbons into surrounding soil and groundwater.
“I don’t see any problem with it going in as long as they can protect the groundwater, and if they can protect the groundwater that goes downhill there towards the Takhini River and down towards McPherson and the adjoining areas below down by Cousin’s Airport, I think it would be OK,” said Roberts.
Castle Rock Enterprises has had a hydro-geological assessment done on the area and it has been determined that no water-licensing will be required.
The company will, however, have to test nearby water wells for hydrocarbons regularly.
Castle Rock has also volunteered to drill its own wells surrounding the facility so that any hydrocarbon leakage can be detected immediately.
If a spill should occur, it must be reported to the appropriate officials within 24 hours.
“I do have some faith in the engineering firm; they’re the same ones that went through all the hassle with McLean Lake so they know what they’re getting into,” said Roberts.
The McLean Lake debate was a decade-long debate in city council over whether or not a concrete batch plant would be allowed in the Sleeping Giant Hill area of the lake.
“I’m willing to give them a chance, because they are far enough from habitation really; they are far enough off the highway and the only hassle I see is to make sure they cover their loads – make sure they cover their loads of soil to get them out there,” said Roberts.