Teck begins groundwater testing in downtown Trail

Teck will be drilling test wells in downtown Trail, beginning Friday, to test the city’s groundwater for historical contaminants.

In an organization as old as Teck, little pieces of history are bound to turn up in the city it lies next to.

Teck Trail Operations will be drilling test wells in downtown Trail,  beginning Friday, to test the city’s groundwater for historical contaminants.

The samples taken from the monitoring wells this weekend will assess if heavy metals, such as ammonia or sulphur, have leached into the groundwater that leads to the shores of the Columbia River.

Elevated levels of heavy metals in groundwater have been traced back to the period between 1950 and 1985, when warm solutions were stored in unlined ponds for long periods of time. Some of the contaminants seeped into the ground and began a very slow getaway under the city and into the river.

As part of Teck’s final remediation plan to Environment Canada, an overall groundwater assessment has been underway since 2001. In 2012, Teck submitted the company’s final clean-up plan and is now putting it into action.

“A drill rig will be used to access the groundwater table,” said Catherine Adair, Teck’s community relations leader, adding, “samples will be collected from the wells and sent for a laboratory analysis.”

The results will be compiled later this fall and if further steps are required, remediation planning activities will start in 2014.

“Trail Operations will be keeping the community informed throughout the overall groundwater assessment and remediation process,” said Adair.

Five locations in the downtown have been chosen based on accessibility.

Drilling investigative locations include the east side of the Fortis parking lot, outside Kootenay Savings Insurance on Farwell Street, the alley between Eldorado and Spokane Street, Bay and Cedar avenues, in front of CIBC, and Pine Avenue.

Road closures in each block affected will happen throughout the weekend, including parking stalls, but all sidewalks will remain open.

The $36 million remediation plan is expected to take five years to implement, with annual operation and maintenance costs estimated to be $6 million.