Former city gas station site, contaminated with toxins, subject of MOE focus

Former city gas station site, contaminated with toxins, subject of MOE focus

CORNWALL, Ontario – The former home of a Cornwall gas station, now contaminated after years of fuel storage, is being monitored to ensure the toxins aren’t leaking into neighbouring properties.

The Ministry of the Environment is keeping an eye on the site at the southwest corner of Second and York streets in Cornwall that is contaminated with hydrocarbons and toluene – the latter of which is a colourless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell of paint thinners.

The worry is that the contaminants could spread to nearby private properties, as well as city-owned land.

“In 2013, during an inspection at the site, the ministry identified potential concerns with the condition of the site,” said Mike Seguin, a supervisor with the local office of the Ministry of the Environment.

At one point the property was the site of a Gulf gas station but has been vacant since the early 1990s. It is owned by Suncor today.

“We required the owner, Suncor, to undertake work at the site to assess the site and identify any contaminants present,” said Seguin. “Suncor conducted soil and groundwater sampling at the site that confirmed contaminants such as hydrocarbons and toluene that are typically associated with fuel.”

Erin Rees, a spokesperson from Suncor, confirmed the company is monitoring the site.

“We are working closely with the Ministry of the Environment and adjacent property owners,” she said. “We continue to investigate and monitor the area and will take necessary steps based on those findings.”

The ministry has told Suncor to continue monitoring the site to make sure contaminants aren’t spreading.

“The ministry will review this work to make sure any contaminants that are migrating from the site are identified and addressed to make sure the surrounding community and environment are protected,” said Seguin. “Monitoring work done to date has shown contamination in soils and groundwater at the site typically associated with fuel dispensing facilities.

“For this reason, further assessment work, meaning additional monitoring and sampling is needed to determine the location, concentration and movement of any contamination off site.”

More to come.

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