One year after the cleanup of Whistler’s Petro-Canada site was completed, the company is still working to finish remediation off site.
“Proper remediation does last a while, and it takes ongoing testing and monitoring,” explained Kelli Stevens, spokesperson for Petro-Canada.
“The bulk of the work is already complete. The main work right now is more off site than on our actual land.”
Stevens said Petro-Canada hopes to have everything completely done by next summer, when the company will apply for a Certificate of Compliance from the Ministry of Environment.
Remediation work began in 2001, after an underground gas leak was detected on the site in 1999. The Quantum Environment group has been helping Petro-Canada clean up the area through a process called multi-phase vacuum extraction that siphons the fuel out of the ground for safe disposal.
Original estimates suggested the clean up would be done by 2006. Because remediation was taking much longer, a decision was made to physically dig up and remove the contaminated soil from the site, which required the closure of the service station on Sept. 5, 2006.
To complete the clean up of the land surrounding the Petro-Canada site, the company is now housing remediation machines on the site inside of sheds. The machines are then connected to other adjacent sites.
Steve Dankevy from the Ministry of Environment said every year since the remediation work began in 2001 the contamination has been decreasing.
“There is a little bit of contamination still left over somewhere off site, so they have installed a couple of new wells, and they will be conducting soil vapour extraction, remediation and ground water discharge to treat some ground water that is still contaminated there,” he said.
Dankevy added that it is not uncommon for sites to take five years to remediate.
“It really depends on the site conditions. I know that the geology beneath the site is quite difficult to complete remediation. It is very cobbly and boldery.”
“I think the plan was to get most of this stuff done by 2010 to make it at least appear like there is nothing at surface that would indicate that there is a contaminated site there.”
At this point, Stevens said Petro-Canada has not made a final decision on the future of the site, located next to Highway 99 and the new Evolution housing development in Creekside.
“We have been working with VANOC to use that property for the Olympics, but that has not been finalized yet,” said Stevens.
She added that there are a lot of options being looked at for the site after the Olympics wrap up in spring 2010.
At one point, Petro-Canada had plans to put a temporary fueling facility in Creekside during the Games. These plans were shelved due to several problems with the proposal. At one time there was also an application with the municipality to build a permanent facility with a convenience store after the Games.