Apr 232015

During the summer of 2013 the proponent drilled three exploratory boreholes on their proposed construction site, to determine whether there were any contaminants or other hazardous wastes left and buried when the Bala #2 Generating Station which was previously there, was demolished in 1972.

The result of testing the subsurface soil and groundwater was an Environmental Site Assessment (that file is 7 Mbytes, so will take some time to download), which reported the following:

  • As noted on pages 4, 22 (Section 8.3.2), 23 (Section 9), 31 (Table 5), 115, and 116, the Zinc level in one of the groundwater samples was above the Ministry of the Environment guidelines. Re-testing was recommended (page 4).
  • As  noted on pages 115 and 116 the Lead and Copper level was also above the O. Reg 153(511) guideline, but apparently this does not require retesting.
  • As noted on page 91, while the intention was that boreholes would be “across the site to provide sufficient coverage”, they were actually only drilled closer to Muskoka Road 169 as the slope of the ground closer to the Moon River was too steep, as noted on page 19 (Section 6.6).

As illustrated by the figure below (click on it for a larger view), we have several concerns:

  • As the entire Crown land site would be excavated (including everything left when the Bala #2 Generating Station was demolished), and the rocks dumped somewhere, it is important understand what contaminents are there.
  • The recommended re-testing has apparently not been done.
  • The water that would need to be pumped out of the excavation during the proposed construction would be treated only by settling tanks – which would not remove dissolved contaminants – and then be pumped directly into the Moon River.

But the major concern is that the subsurface groundwater would flow west (as noted in the Executive Summary on page 3 and in Section 9 on page 23) and the exploratory boreholes were all drilled upstream of the potential contaminants. Therefore, the boreholes were drilled in the wrong place and would not include the contaminants on the site.

  1. Boreholes must be drilled at and downstream (westward) of where the Bala #2 Generating Station was.
  2. Note that the one test which exceeded the Ministry of the Environment guidelines was from the borehole closest to the location of the previous Bala #2 Generating Station.

On April 21, 2015 we provided this presentation to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Committee of the Whole, and on April 22, 2015 we provided this presentation to the District Municipality of Muskoka Engineering & Public Works Committee.

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