An estimated 9,000 tonnes of soil contaminated with petroleum and aromatic hydrocarbons as well as heavy metals have been discovered on the site that is being excavated for a flood control retention pond south of St. James Street.
It could cost up to $400,000 to haul 900 truckloads of it to Memramcook for safe disposal.
The town’s share of the cost would be 25% or up to $100,000 with the rest coming from the federal and provincial governments through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
Councillor Bill Evans broke the news during the Sackville Town Council meeting Monday night when he moved a motion calling for approval of “additional expenses for the cleanup of the Lorne Street Phase 2 project due to a pocket of contaminated soil being found on the former CN property.”
“Obviously, we’re not thrilled about finding contamination on the property,” town manager Jamie Burke told council. “However, the good news is that there will be a property that was formerly contaminated in our municipality that will be cleaned up.”
Burke explained that the contamination was found on land that the town bought from CN Rail on an “as is” basis.
Much of the area where the retention pond is being dug served as a railway hub for more than a century with rail yards and a big railway shed on the site.
Councillor Shawn Mesheau asked why the engineering consultants the town hired hadn’t anticipated the possibility of contaminated soil.
“I’m kind of curious as to why they wouldn’t have gone a little more in depth in regards to the testing in an area that would be considered industrial,” he asked, “and how it is we’re kind of stumbling across this now.”
“I guess in hindsight, 20/2o’s a wonderful thing,” Burke answered, adding, “It’s easy to sit here now and say ‘we should have done this, we should have done that.'”
“We then made a second application,” he said, adding that the town and its consultants didn’t have the luxury of time to conduct extensive studies.
“We had done geotechnical investigation and we didn’t hit any contaminated soil,” Burke said.
“We did take a risk. Unfortunately, we had some contaminated soil and we’re very fortunate that it is only a small pocket.”
To read the town’s report on the contaminated soil, click here.