Millstream Meadows, an former dumpsite in Highlands that threatened to contaminate surrounding groundwater three years ago, is on the home stretch of its remediation marathon.
A gaping hole in 2008 and 2009 after 76,000 metric tons of contaminated soil was excavated and trucked away in a $10 million project, the site was backfilled in early 2010 and is now a field of soft earth.
“It’s nice and level now,” said Glen Harris, senior manager of environmental protection for the Capital Regional District.
The next step is drilling wells to complete a groundwater study to deem the site safe, the final stage of the risk assessment process. Wells will be in place to “evaluate the groundwater pathways,” Harris said.
“That will move forward our risk assessment,” Harris said. “This year is about doing the groundwater pathway evaluation.”
The site currently has 40 wells to monitor if any remaining contaminants are migrating away from the area.
The 32-acre Millstream Meadows, dating to the 1940s and closed in 1984, was a regional dump for septage, sewage and solid waste. Diesel was detected in monitoring wells at the edge of the property in April 2007, indicating contaminants were migrating out, potentially into groundwater used for residential consumption.
In November 2007, the CRD went as far as distributing bottled water to nearby Highlands residents, and fast-tracked the cleanup. At the time, Highlands council demanded the CRD bring piped water into the southern end of the district, a proposal that did not gain traction.
Harris said the CRD has monitored the site four times per year in an ongoing project, including taking soil samples from different depths and locations. If trace contaminants are found, Harris said the CRD would use monitors to ensure soil isn’t moving or would add a clean layer of topsoil.
At the end of the risk assessment program and remediation process, the CRD plans to apply for a certificate of compliance from the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
The cleanup process has been a joint CRD- provincial government effort. The CRD has previously said it plans to sell the property once the remediation process is finished.