Approximately eight months after the incident occurred, County Council received the final clean-up report from administration regarding the hydrocarbon release that closed the Sportsplex pond for nearly two months last summer.
“Alberta Environment and Parks has determined the release of approximately five cubic meters of hydrocarbons to be intentional,” said Dan Lemieux, director of community services. “Despite Alberta Environment’s thorough investigation, fines have not been laid and the file is now closed.”
The final cost of clean-up and remediation was $184,125.
The popular family fishing venue and surrounding trails were closed on May 23 after a hydrocarbon was illegally disposed into a nearby curbside drain that subsequently contaminated the pond. After the initial response to contain the oil waste and prevent further contamination, the County’s environmental consultants conducted extensive remediation work along the shoreline, including removal of approximately two-thirds of the cattails surrounding the pond. The facility was re-opened on July 17, 2019.
“The County along with Alberta Environment have been monitoring the wildlife in the area since the incident occurred and there is no known impact to the health of animal or aquatic life,” said Christine Rawlins, parks and recreation manager. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, we will continue to operate the pond on a catch and release basis only.”
The County has also reviewed its own internal processes for environmental emergency response and have made updates to the health and safety management system. Action steps include updating the Standard Operating Procedure, coordinating response through the Incident Command System, and ensuring an up-to-date list of qualified environmental contractors who can respond to similar events. The key is prompt detection and notification that leads to a quick response when these types of events occur.
“We are grateful to the member of the public who reported the sheen in the pond, which alerted us to the fact that there was an illegal dumping of hydrocarbon into a nearby drain,” said Lemieux. “Vigilance is an important part of our early detection and mitigation strategy, so we ask that the public contact the Alberta Environment’s 24-hour Emergency Response Line at 1-800-222-6514 or Alberta Environmental and Dangerous Goods Emergencies at 1-800-272-9600 immediately if they see anything unusual, including someone dumping materials into the drains. This incident was costly to the County, the community, and the environment and was entirely preventable.”
Although Alberta Environment and Parks Compliance division’s investigation is over, anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the County’s Enhanced RCMP Unit at 780-532-9727.