Soil testing conducted in Buchans in the fall of 2009 by Conestoga Rovers and Associates (CRA), on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, had identified elevated levels of heavy metals in some of the samples. Further testing and a Human Health Risk Assessment completed in early 2010 concluded that some residential areas have soil lead levels that may pose unacceptable risks to human health.
The Provincial Government held two public meetings in Buchans on this issue and the Central Health Authority made blood lead testing available for any concerned residents. Based on the testing results, medical experts have determined there isn’t any evidence of immediate health concerns resulting from lead exposure. However, there were still several continuous sources of lead and other heavy metals from exposed tailings near the town that had to be addressed.
In 2010, the Provincial Government committed $9 million for projects to address the two main source areas that continued to contribute to the lead in soil levels in Buchans. These projects included:
This work has been substantially completed, with only finishing touches required in 2011.
The photos below depict the Tailing Spill Area before and after the 2010 remediation.
Note that this area has been hydro-seeded and vegetation is expected to geminate in the spring of 2011.
Now that the source areas of the tailings have been addressed, the Department of Environment and Conservation has engaged a consultant to develop a Risk Management Plan for the residential and public areas with soil lead levels above the risk based criteria.
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