Challenges continue at contaminated Simcoe site

The in-ground activated carbon barrier along Rob Blake Way in Simcoe had to be fortified recently to contain soil contamination migrating to the east from the county garage on the Queensway West. Monte Sonnenberg/Delhi News Record

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Challenges continue for Norfolk County in its bid to clean up serious soil contamination at the municipal garage on the Queensway West in Simcoe.

Part of the $10-million effort includes the installation of an activated carbon barrier in the ground along the east side of Rob Blake Way. The barrier is designed to capture and neutralize remnant petro-chemical contamination migrating east from the county property.

In a note to Norfolk council on April 20, facilities director Marlene Watson said, “There was a slight breach at the wall at Rob Blake Way.

“The wall has now been made longer and deeper and integrity restored,” Watson said.

Remediation work also includes a survey of the garage itself. The garage is being monitored because nine injection wells have been drilled beneath it. Four extraction wells have been installed inside the building.

A rinse will be injected into the soil beneath the garage. The solution will be vacuumed up through the extraction wells and piped to a treatment facility in the pine woodlot to the east. The county is preparing for the possibility this may cause the garage to settle into the re-conditioned soil.

The next step, Watson said, involves connecting the rinsing system to the treatment facility in the woodlot.

“This is expected to take about a month,” she said. “If all proceeds as planned, it is hopeful the system will be up and running by mid- to late May.”

The remediation project has been underway now for many years. Norfolk council approved the latest round of funding — $4.7 million – in October.

Conducting the clean-up is Ground Force Environmental of Kitchener. The firm is addressing soil contamination arising from the failure of in-ground fuel tanks dating back many decades.

Norfolk is being aggressive because the plume was migrating toward the Cedar Street well field 1.2 kilometres to the east. The well field is a major source of tap water in Simcoe.

As well, a subdivision was constructed several years ago on the site of the original Norview Lodge east of the garage. Buildings with basements will smell like gasoline if plumes of this sort reach them. This represents a health hazard and a potential liability for the county.

Remediation has included excavating the greenspace in front of the Norfolk OPP detachment and decontaminating the soil.

Despite the clean-up, it remains business as usual at the garage. The province deemed municipal garages as essential services as part of its COVID-19 pandemic planning on April 3.