It’s taking longer than expected to dispose of about 9,000 tonnes of contaminated soil that was discovered during the digging of a 40,000 cubic metre flood retention pond near Lorne Street in downtown Sackville.
Town manager Jamie Burke says the night before contractors were to start hauling the soil laced with petroleum, aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals to an Envirem Organics disposal site in Memramcook, the provincial department of transportation told the town it would not allow trucks to use a service road that runs parallel to the TransCanada Highway because of spring weight restrictions.
“That forced us to juggle things,” Burke adds, “because we did have a pile of contaminated material that we expected to transport out with nasty weather starting.”
Burke says the town then arranged to truck about 1,500 tonnes of the soil to Elmtree Environmental, a disposal facility near Moncton.
“We received a very favourable disposal rate from the facility and we had co-operation of the contractor to get that material out without it being any more expensive than it would have been to take the 1,500 tonnes of material to Envirem,” Burke says.
He adds that the remaining 7,500 tonnes will be trucked to the disposal site in Memramcook once the province lifts the seasonal weight restrictions.
Tricky CN crossing
Burke says that on May 6th, a drill crew from Montreal will begin installing twin culverts under the CN rail line near Crescent Street, a job that is expected to take five days.
The 1050 millimetre (41.3 inch) pipes will carry water from the Lorne Street flood control project under the CN tracks. The water will then flow through pipes under Crescent Street into a ditch that drains across the marsh to an old wooden aboiteau.
In an earlier update, the town reported that the tricky operation to push the twin culverts under the railway was delayed by the discovery of a buried fibre-op cable that was lower than expected, forcing the contractor to move the drilling site several feet to the northeast.
Mayor says more will be needed
Meantime, Mayor John Higham says that Lorne Street and the rest of downtown Sackville remained quite dry during the recent rains, showing that the flood control project is starting to work.
However, the mayor adds that ditches and ponds were filling up even though Sackville did not experience conditions that led to record, one-in-one-hundred-year flooding in other parts of the province.
“The one-in-one-hundred, we haven’t even come close to seeing that as yet down here,” Higham warns, adding that the town must prepare for storms that could result in flooding from heavy rains as well as rising seas.
“That’s the terrible combination of getting a one-in-one-hundred that drops the rain inside the dikes and also getting such a storm that it’s pushing a much higher tide outside of the dikes, and how those two interact could be pretty significant, especially with the dikes in the state they are right now,” he says.
The mayor suggests that people who say the town is wasting money by constructing big water retention ponds aren’t looking at the potential for such record-breaking storms.
He was referring to critics such as Sackville resident Percy Best who maintains it would be more effective and much cheaper to clear existing marsh ditches, replace old aboiteaux and work on alleviating flooding that originates in the area west of Sackville rather than concentrating efforts on the watershed directly above the town.
“They’re wasting a lot of money building big ponds with trees and fancy walking trails around them,” Best says. “There are much cheaper and better ways of doing this.”