Potentially Toxic

scotto

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Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
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Beach area residents concerned about sludge pond.
BARB MCKAY
The Hamilton Sun, Sunday April 24th.
A HAMILTON Beach neighbourhood has a potentially toxic situation on its hands.
Residents worry a sludge pond in the Hamilton Harbour may be leaching toxic waste into their backyards. Beach Blvd. homeowners say they have voiced concerns time and time again about the pond — a confined disposal facility (CDF) on Eastport Dr. used by the Hamilton Port Authority for harbour dredging.
'You feel somewhat hopeless'
Jim Elliott
who has lived in the area since 1965

Residents say because the port authority is a federal body that owns the land where the dredging takes place, there is little they can do.
"You feel somewhat hopeless," said Jim Elliott, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1965. "You want to grow a garden in your backyard and you wonder, is it safe? You wonder if it's worth bothering."
Jeff Brookfield, vice-president of operations for the port authority, said the CDF is well maintained, but admitted there is a possibility of leakage.
"I wouldn't say there is no way," he said. "There's always concern. But if you look at the water levels in the harbour and the CDF you can tell they're not the same. So you can tell there's containment."
Brookfield said he didn't believe water from the CDF could run under the QEW highway several metres to the properties in question, but residents say it's completely possible. Jim Howlett, president of the Hamilton Beach Community Council, which represents some 2,000 residents, and chair of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, said if he dug down 30 inches in his yard, he would hit water. "People could be eating toxic tomatoes," he said. "We're worried about cancer."
A co-ordinated study between McMaster University and local high schools last fall showed elevated levels of contaminants, including copper, benzo(a)pyrene and PCBs. Daphnia fleas were released into the containment pond while others were placed in the bay, Hamilton Beach and also a control site — a small stream which crosses Hyde Park Avenue in West Hamilton. After 24 hours all the Daphnia fleas from the CDF were dead. Dr. George Sorger, a microbiologist from McMaster who led the study, said the waste needs further study and should not be ignored.
"It (the study) does not tell us what the poison is or even whether it is necessarily poisonous to humans," he said. "However it is like the canary in the mines, a sign that there is something potentially dangerous there."
Sorger said simple chemical and biological tests would prove if poisons were present or not. It is also possible to test whether the CDF is leaching by pouring a compound, like a dye, into it and watching to see if the compound leaks into the surrounding water.
Brooksfield said the port authority is in the process of working towards a solution. It completed an environmental assessment and hired a consultant to look at the management of the CDF. Brookfield said he also plans to speak to Environment Canada in the near future.
But the neighbours of Beach Boulevard say it's the same old story.
"The way I see it, that's federal land," said Tom Lytwyn, who has lived in the -community for over 50 years. "They can do what they want and get away with it."
 
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