Chemical contamination under fire station to be addressed

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By Nick Seebruch
Chemical contamination under fire station to be addressed
The Cornwall Fire Services Station #2 located at 1353 Second St. E (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council heard a report from Jacobs Engineering Group about potential risk to human health for occupants of the Cornwall Fire Services Station #2, located at 1353 Second St. E.

The land directly east and south of the fire station is owned by Nouryon Chemical LLC and is formerly the site of the Cornwall Courtaulds chemical plant.

That land is contaminated with 1,1 dichloridethylene and vinyl chloride. Of immediate concern is an underground plume of vinyl chloride which is approaching the east side of the fire station’s property.

Vinyl chloride is an industrial chemical used in the creation of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes. Vinyl chloride is known to cause various types of cancer including brain, liver, and lung cancer.

Jeremy Piper of Jacobs assured Council that there is no immediate danger to the occupants of the fire station, but there is potential for future harm.

To fix this problem, Jacobs and Nouryon will be installing two systems to help decontaminate the land and manage any harmful vapors.

The first is a biosparge system, which will inject oxygen bubbles into the land. The injection of oxygen will encourage the growth of natural bacteria in the soil which will consume the harmful chemicals. The biosparge system will be managed by vapor venting wells which will prevent pressure build up. Vapors collected by vapor venting wells and sent to a treatment system located on site.

The second system Jacobs and Nouryon will install will be a subslab depressurization system underneath and on top of the fire station, which Piper explained would help prevent any harmful vapors from entering the building itself.

Councillor Dean Hollingsworth raised the concern of the vinyl chloride leaking off of the property to underneath Second St. itself and into the sewage system.

“There is certainly a chance of these chemicals migrating from the property into Second St. and into our sewage system,” said Michael Fawthrop, Division Manager for Infrastructure Services for the City of Cornwall.

Piper of Jacobs assured that if further problems are discovered while installing their land remediation systems, those systems would simply be expanded to address any contamination of concern.

Jacobs and Nouryon plan on having the systems installed by January 2021 and will have to operate them for a period of five years.

In response to a question from Councillor Carilyne Hébert, Piper explained that the full cost of the remediation project will be covered by Nouryon Chemicals.

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