By Staff/August 26, 2021
The public has until September 23 to comment on a proposal to build and operate a decontamination tank on the Foxtrap Access Road to handle waste that may contain radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium.
The application by Pardy’s Waste, which has been in the waste handling and disposal business for some 30 years, would see the construction of two concrete and steel chambers laid atop a bed of concrete. The facility would occupy some 13,000 square feet on land that Pardy’s already own at 267 Incinerator Road. That area is outside the boundary of Conception Bay South and controlled zoning and development wise by the City of St. John’s.
Most of the material is expected to come from the oil and gas industry in the form of equipment, fluids and muds generated from drilling for oil. Radiation that is naturally present in the ground tends to concentrate on pipes, casings and muds associated with drilling. There is already one storage facility for radiation contaminated materials situated in the area, but operated by another company, just beyond the site of the old CBS incinerator and landfill.
According to a document filed by Pardy’s with the Department of Environment, improper controls of such materials can lead to the spread of contamination on land and in groundwater potentially exposing workers, the public and the environment. In the filing, Pardy’s general manager, Steve Moore, said the aim of the proposed facility is to provide a safe place to store and decontaminate materials generated in this province, before shipping them for final storage in Western Canada. If it gets the go ahead, Pardy’s intends to fence the entire site and start construction next spring.
“No utilities will be connected to the storage vault,” Moore noted in the company’s application. “The decontamination chamber will be underlain by a reinforced concrete pad sloped into a containment sump. The containment sump will be self-contained using a double wall underground storage tank. A dedicated pump will be used to transfer washings to approved containers for final disposal.”
As the property is already occupied, Moore said, the plant will not produce any emissions or effluent and will have no adverse impact on the land, bodies of water, vegetation or wildlife.
“Recreationally zoned land is approximately 400 metres to the north of the subject site, however does not appear to be used frequently by the public,” he added. “The nearest residential dwelling to the site is approximately 3,000 meters to the northeast.”
Pardy’s figures the facility will take approximately three months to build and once in operation will require some additional staff in addition to the personnel already employed by the company now. New hires will be trained in the handling of hazardous waste. Moore said the contaminated items will be held temporarily and will be removed within one year of the date of their acceptance.
“The only waste generated in this facility will be wash water / scale / sludge from the decontamination sump,” Moore said. “This waste will containerized for shipping off-island to an approved facility. As all decontamination will occur in an isolated contained steel vault, no air emissions, effluent or solid waste will be released… Spills or releases from the site are not anticipated. Pardy’s Waste Management and Industrial Services Limited are trained first responders to environmental emergencies and have been for over 30 years.”
The Minister of Environment, Bernard Davis, is expected to give his decision on the application on October 2. In Canada, there are only three provincially licenced facilities available for final containment of such materials, two in Saskatchewan and one in British Columbia.