Ground water gets closer look

Teck to drill in Annable after ammonia found in 2010

Teck will soon take a closer look at the ground water below Annable after ammonia was detected in it last year.

When an odour was identified during a sewer pipe excavation on Silver Street in October, Teck and Warfield ran tests and found elevated levels of ammonia concentration in the ground water.

“The suspicion is that it may be related to our fertilizer operation but it’s unlikely to be related to anything that’s happening there now, more historical operations,” explained Clare North, Teck’s environmental projects coordinator.

Now the mining giant has contracted Golder Associates to supervise the drilling of five ground water monitoring wells.

See WELLS, Page 2

The wells will be used  to help find out what the source is.

“This is good news, as far as I’m concerned,” said Warfield Mayor Jim Nelson when North and fellow Teck employee Mike Patterson made a presentation to council last week.

The drilling was scheduled to start next week but the project will likely be delayed a couple weeks while Teck awaits a permit from the Ministry of Transportation.

After drilling holes into the ground, plastic PVC pipe will be installed into the holes, which will be topped with metal covers that will run flush to the ground.

“The wells are a way to take a sample of the ground water and with the sample, we’ll be able to evaluate ground water quality. Specifically to this project, we’ll be looking for ammonia,” said North. “Those samples will be submitted to an analytical laboratory and they’ll be able to give us a determination of how much ammonia is in the groundwater, if any.”

There is no indication that the increased ammonia levels will pose a risk to human health or wildlife at this time.

“We did sample the creek in October, at the same time as we were looking at that sewer excavation, and the results showed that there was little impact in the ground water in the creek and there was not enough to pose a concern,” she said. “We’re going to confirm this by sampling again.”

The five locations where wells will be drilled surround the first place the ammonia was discovered on the one-block street across the Trail Creek from the Ray Lyn Motel.

“We basically look at where we found it in the trench and where the typography of the surrounding area is,” said North. “This is basically the first step in seeing how wide spread it is.”

The drilling will take place within the roadway on Silver Street, adjacent to the playground off French Street, nearby the junction of Wellington Avenue and Highway 3B, close to the roadway on Wellington Avenue in Lower Warfield and near the Trail Creek culvert at the northwest end of Rossland Avenue in the Gulch.

Drilling is expected to take about one day per site and will take place during weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Teck is still in communication with a Warfield resident who has unusual deterioration of the foundation and concrete walkways on her property at the end of Silver Street. It is undetermined at this time whether the homeowner’s discovery is linked to the ammonia levels found in Annable.

This is not the first well project Teck has taken on. During the Trail Operations risk assessment in 2001, the company discovered increased concentration of ammonia, sulphate and several metals in the ground water directly beneath the southeast corner of Trail Operations. These substances are believed to have originated from historical operations and storage of materials and an investigation is ongoing.

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