Concerns have been raised after swimmers were spotted in the contaminated waters of a Greater Victoria area pond, although Transport Canada has tried to allay fears of a health threat to general users of the park.
The Reay Creek pond is rated as a Class 1 contamination site due to years of pollution from industry at nearby Victoria International Airport. Remediation efforts, overseen by Transport Canada, are due to begin this month. The creek was officially registered as contaminated in 2015, during an inspection that indicated high levels of metals, including cadmium, zinc, chromium and lead. It was later given a Class 1 contamination rating and a process was set in motion to conclude with its remediation. A spokesman for Transport Canada says the clean-up is a “priority for the Government of Canada.”
Signs are posted around the park, calling people’s attention to the contaminated sediment in the creek bed. The signs state, “As a precautionary measure Park Users should avoid contact with bottom sediments.”
Concerns were raised when people were seen splashing in the waters last week during the hot weather. However, while it is not advisable to enter the water, only sections of the creek’s sediment are believed to be contaminated and general park patrons using the trails are not at risk of ill effects.
In a written statement, Transport Canada says, “Because contamination is limited to sediments in portions of Reay Creek and Pond, human exposure to the contamination is unlikely. The Town of Sidney has posted signs along Reay Creek and Reay Creek Pond to avoid contact with the sediments. Public adherence to warning signs should prevent human exposure to contaminants.”
Tervita Corp. won the $504,000 contract to remediate the pond and work beginning this month is expected to finish in October. During that time, the creek will be diverted and 900 tonnes of bottom sediment will be removed for cleaning or disposal.
The Reay Creek Remediation Project is funded through Canada’s Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, which earmarks funding for the assessment and remediation of federal contaminated sites.