Soil assessments up, contaminated yards down

The number of requests for soil assessments is going up in Trail but the percentage of contaminated yards needing remediation is dropping.

The number of requests for lead laden soil assessments is going up in Trail but the percentage of contaminated yards needing remediation is dropping, according to a Trail Health and Environment Committee Community Program report.

Bruce Enns, manager of the Home and Garden program (through SNC Lavalin’s Trail Operations), said the number of garden soil assessments performed in Trail has risen from eight in 2007 when the program was first introduced, to a record 73 so far in 2012.

Coupled with an increase in yard soil assessments—from six in 2007 to 123 in 2012—the program’s four certified operators have been kept busy with assessments.

But not remediation. Yard and garden remediations have dropped from a high of 53 in 2010 to only 17 in 2012, showing that the lead “trigger” values are lower this year than they have ever been, said Enns.

“Primarily it could be that we have covered off most of the higher (more contaminated) ones,” he said.

He noted it was hard to gauge what the reason for the drop off was since data contained within the six-year program does not include a map of soil quality in all of Trail.

Instead, the program based initial investigations in 2007 on areas where there had historically been some higher levels of lead contamination. The Home and Garden program has concentrated its effort on those areas to begin with.

SNC-Lavalin Environment (on contract to Teck) coordinates home renovation support and garden and yard soil programs.

Enns said the scope of the program has moved into a larger diameter around that area—mostly in East Trail in direct line with prevailing winds from Teck Trail Operations—where the environment has been found to possess higher lead concentrations.

Some assessments have been made by request in other areas through town but those are on a lower priority basis, Enns noted.

“The properties are mostly ones with young children, which is a priority for us,” he said.

If remediation is warranted that is completed at no cost to the property owner.

Typically, when the program embarks on a remediation it is almost always full removal of the soil in a yard or garden, with some exceptions depending on its lead content.

The home renovation and soils programs are offered out of the Community Program Office at 1319 Bay Avenue. The Community Program Office also provides information and referral about the program.

in general.

Trail Health and Environment Committee is a partnership between the local community, Teck, Interior Health and the BC Ministry of Environment. THEC is formally established as a sub-committee of the City of Trail.