Sludge Straight into Sewer
There has been no updating at Eye on Norquay so far on Toxic Soil Remediation Factory
(posted 19 January 2015) because expected further information never arrived. Information
that was obtained is being incorporated into this sequel.
All the photographs that accompany this account were taken at the 2220 Kingsway construction site for Westbank’s Kensington Gardens development at mid-afternoon on Friday 13 February 2015.
The pictures tell the story far better than words can, but words are needed to explain the images and their sequence. This story starts at the downstream end and works backward to the source. Let the evidence come first.
1 of 7 — Sludge Goes Straight into the Sewer
The sewer grate at foreground right in this picture clearly has accommodated substantial recent water flow. The debris-covered grating is not properly fitted to the opening that it is supposed to cover. The opening has not been fitted with screening that is required to protect the sewer system. The asphalt surrounding the grate shows that a considerable amount of sludge must have been carried into the sewer. View is south from Kingsway sidewalk, toward western (Gladstone Street) side of 2.3 acre parcel.
2 of 7 — Sewer Grate in Context
Distance provides greater context for the now less visible sewer grate, located between dark brown foreground dirt and in line with rear of unhitched trailer. View is east from Gladstone Street, with Kingsway at left.
3 of 7 — Large Pool on Surface of Asphalt
At center a large pool reflects trees, buildings, and sky in distance. This is water that was not able to flow to sewer grate. Pavement is dry because this was not a day of rain. Note evidence of stream of water at right having fed the pool. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue, near corner with Gladstone Street.
4 of 7 — L-Shaped Pond at South Center
This water collecting excavation is located at what used to be the western end of the Canadian Tire automobile service bays. (Compare with pre-demolition images numbered 3 and 4 at Toxic Soil Remediation Factory.) Note vertical and horizontal white plastic pipes connected with tube at water level at inside corner of ell. Note sump hose crossing foreground. Note color of water and materials floating on surface. View is north toward Kingsway from East 30th Avenue near center of site.
5 of 7 — Drainage Hoses Stretch Away from Two Ponds
These hoses appear to have been used to pump water out of water collecting ponds over to the western asphalt-covered side of the site. View is west toward Gladstone Street from laneway along eastern side
of site, with East 30th Avenue lying just beyond covered sidewalk.
6 of 7 — Two Water Collecting Ponds
Note different levels and water colors for two ponds. This southeast corner of the Canadian Tire site is where a large waste oil collection tank used to stand, at the eastern end of the row of automobile service bays.
7 of 7 — Larger Southeast Pond
Angle and distance of this photo give better view of water in the larger southeast pond. Notice the layer of something collected on the surface of the water. View is from eastern laneway northwest toward intersection of Kingway with Gladstone Street.
The 2220 Kingway site slopes south to north, and forms part of a long downhill grade toward Trout Lake, whose main feeder stream happens to runs underground just east of the Canadian Tire site.
At the time of photographing, I spoke with an adult eyewitness who described how water had earlier been pumped out, with the hose releasing water somewhere near the center of the site. This account matches the evidence that remained visible, especially the large pool and the sludge surrounding the sewer grate.
Back to the Factory
The City of Vancouver responded promptly and helpfully to questions posed earlier in Toxic Soil Remediation Factory. The purpose of the factory is to clean up construction site waste water, including washings from vehicle tires, before that water enters the sewer system. The purpose of the two large square steel boxes is to collect sediment. The purpose of the four round tanks is to carbon filter the water to remove impurities like hydrocarbons. Truckloads of soil that require remediation will be taken to an off-site facility for processing. This was reassuring news.
Far less reassuring was the type of monitoring and frequency of reporting that seem anticipated for the operation of the water cleaning apparatus. It appears that equipment dysfunction could go undetected for weeks, and that no independent checking will be performed on infrequently reported self-assessments of water quality.
Big New Questions
Why has a large quantity of sedimented and probably contaminated water already been discharged directly into the sewer system?
Why did this water not pass through the remediation apparatus that has been set up?
What does this very early incident suggest about Westbank concern to do the job right and City of Vancouver oversight to ensure that standards are met?