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Teck continues to investigate source of ammonia in Annable groundwater

Teck is continuing to investigate ground water below Annable after finding elevated ammonia levels in a one-block radius of Silver Street.

Teck is continuing to investigate ground water below Annable after finding elevated ammonia levels in a one-block radius of Silver Street.

Phase One of the company’s investigation – testing ground water, surface water and soil vapour – is now complete and Teck is now confirming initial results to ensure there is no seasonal variability associated with the levels found.

It also will hire a consultant to look at what options are available to intercept the contaminated ground water and prevent it from migrating into neighbouring properties.

“We have taken a look at our current operation at the fertilizer plant and don’t believe that there is anything that we’re currently doing that would be adding to ground water in the vicinity so, for that reason, we believe it’s associated with historical practices at the fertilizer plant,” said Clare North, environmental projects coordinator.

“There is no indication that the ammonia levels or the constituents found pose a human health risk as nobody is using ground water as a drinking water source in that area and it’s not a municipal water supply.”

Teck drilled wells within the roadway on Silver Street, adjacent to the playground off French Street, nearby the junction of Wellington Avenue and Highway 3B and near the Trail Creek culvert at the northwest end of Rossland Avenue in the Gulch this spring.

Samples were taken and measured, using standards of the Canadian Water Quality for the Protection of Aquatic Life and BC Water Quality Guidelines for Freshwater Aquatic Life.

The company found elevated levels of fluoride, sulphate and ammonia in the groundwater, which led them to monitor soil vapour.

“(This) was done in response to a concern that the ammonia under certain conditions could turn into vapour and come up through the soil,” explained Richard Deane, manager of environmental, health and safety and public affairs. “The soil vapour monitoring that was done didn’t detect any ammonia vapour.”

Teck found low levels of ammonia in the surface water at Trail Creek that were below water-quality guidelines but it did find higher concentrations of cadmium and zinc in Trail Creek and Haley Creek.

Though there is potential to impact fish in the surface water at Haley Creek, a habitat assessment found that this creek is “relatively inaccessible to fish.”

The Trail Creek, however, does have healthy fish swimming in the surface water, which isn’t contaminated enough to pose a risk.

The contaminated groundwater was discovered last fall 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.

Residents living nearby have been kept up-to-date throughout the investigation.