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B.C. town begins phase two of metal remediation for pond by former airport

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The federal government has awarded phase two of British Columbia’s Reay Creek sediment remediation project to QM Environmental for $1.14 million, as officials work to restore the polluted fish habitat.

Remediation got underway in Sidney, B.C., in summer 2019 to remove sediments with elevated levels of metals from a 200-metre-long pond off the creek, with Tervita Corporation completing work within the Victoria Airport boundary.

But this season’s remediation is expected to remove 3,900 cubic metres of sediment, seven times the amount of last year. The cleanup work involves diverting the creek around a pond area, excavating contaminated sediment in the pond, transporting the sediment to an approved facility for treatment or disposal, then backfilling the pond.

The pond contains high levels of cadmium, chromium, lead and zinc and is considered a Class 1 contaminated site by Transport Canada, which formerly owned an airport in the vicinity. The agency has stated that the pollution is threatening the creek’s food web.

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ḰEL¸SET is the indigenous name for Reay Creek, and has begun to gain more prominence. The government has officially renamed the remediation project in recognition.

“Cleaningup the pond will reduce threats to the pond ecosystem and the food web, in addition to providing a healthier home for cutthroat trout and coho salmon,” said Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, in a statement.

The remediation work will be restricted to a short window of time between the cutthroat trout and coho salmon’s critical spawning period in the ḰEL¸SET (Reay) Creek. Environmental professionals will transfer any fish from the pond.

Transport Canada said it will be monitoring the remediation, which is funded through Canada’s Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan. It is expected to be completed by early fall.

“The determination of the Town’s dam upgrades happening concurrently with Transport Canada’s pond remediation project will depend on the selected contractor’s capacity and willingness to undertake both projects,” Paula Kully, Sidney’s communication coordinator, told the Victoria News. “The Town is still working towards both projects happening concurrently.”

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