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Contaminated soil at Conestogo yard poses no threat, says township

A large pile of soil contaminated with road salt and sand, sitting for years in the Conestogo works yard, will be tested to ensure it poses no dangers.

Woolwich councillors called for the testing Tuesday night following a presentation from Lynne Hare, a candidate for Ward 3 in the October 27 election who heard about the stockpile while out campaigning.

“In light of the fact there are private wells and a playground in a 200-metre radius, I think there should be sufficient reason for concern,” she said.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said the soil was removed from Riverside Drive West in Elmira during a reconstruction project in 2007. It contained too much road salt and sand to be left in place, but levels were low enough for the soil to be used as fill in another road project, for instance.

He admitted the soil has been on the site past the “short duration” envisioned when council approved storing it in Conestogo back in 2007.

“The soil has stayed at the Conestogo site longer than anticipated.”

There’s no reason to believe the soil poses any danger, he stressed. Given that it was removed from a residential area, the soil was not likely to have other contaminants they might expect to find if the surrounding uses were industrial, for instance.

Coun. Bonnie Bryant requested the township carry out an environmental assessment for other contaminants.

Kennaley said the testing could be done soon, adding the cost “wouldn’t be exorbitant.”

The stockpile has been on the site so long that it’s now covered over with vegetation, largely weeds. That’s probably a good sign, Kennaley noted, as if the salt levels were too high nothing would grow there.

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