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Petro Canada cleanup on schedule — for 2006 completion

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The remediation of the Petro Canada and Creekside Lodge sites, which were contaminated by leaky gasoline storage tanks, is already well into its second year, but still a long way from completion.

According to a spokesperson for Petro Canada, the cleanup is right on schedule – the target date for completion is 2006.

"We are meeting with third parties, including the Ministry (of Water, Land and Air Protection), and everyone involved is updated very regularly," said Ann Makin, a communications advisor for Petro Canada’s national office.

"Right now we’re estimating completion in 2006."

The methods used to remediate the site, removing a hydrocarbon "plume" that stretches from Petro Canada to the edge of the Creekside Lodge site, are slow but far less intrusive than any of the alternatives.

"It’s quite a complicated situation," said Makin. "There’s a leasing arrangement on the site with an attempt to own, so that’s why there are so many parties involved. The bottom line is we want to completely remediate the site and make it better for everyone around."

Seacor Environmental Engineering, the contractor that is remediating the site for Petro Canada, would not comment on the cleanup and referred the Pique’s questions to Petro Canada.

According to documents obtained by Pique dated Jan. 19, 2001, the hydrocarbons were present in the groundwater "at concentrations exceeding acceptable levels for aquatic life."

To measure the size of the plume, engineers drilled 60 holes around the site and took samples to determine if hydrocarbons were present and in what concentration. The Beaver Flats employee housing site and Whistler Creek were cleared.

The cleanup process uses multi-phase vacuum extraction, with one unit on Petro Canada property and another unit at the Creekside Lodge. The units suck up groundwater through a piping network that connects to a field of recovery wells in the area of the plume, and remove the hydrocarbons.

Once most of the hydrocarbons are recovered, the next phase of the cleanup requires the installation of an air sparging system to remove and treat hydrocarbon vapours remaining in the soil.

According to Steve Dankevy from the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection’s contaminated sites unit, Petro Canada’s application to clean the site hasn’t even been processed yet. It’s not unusual, however, for companies to take their own steps to remediate a site in co-operation with local governments.

"We are staying on top of it, and from what we understand they are successfully collecting product," he said. "The (Petro Canada) head office is funding the cleanup, but we won’t know how well it’s going until we’ve seen the numbers over a longer period of time. Aside from following the progress, it’s really in their hands at this point."

The leak has delayed other projects in the Creekside area, including the diversion of Whistler Creek and the construction of a highway underpass below Highway 99 that is being built for the creek and a new section of Valley Trail.

In order to proceed, Intrawest’s Resort Development Group has agreed to build a liner for the creek where it passes through the plume to prevent any contamination while remediation is ongoing.

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