what’s that smell?

wanderer writes: “Is there anyone with the requisite knowledge concerning the contaminated soil at the VOX site?

The digging up of the contaminated soil, carefully piled up and covered in white sheeting, followed by refilling the holes and digging up more piles to be covered, with waiting periods of unknown length between the digs, all with no indication as to what they are really doing, is disturbing.

There seems to be no attempt to remove the contaminated soil, just moving it around. How does this solve the problem of soil contamination at the Vox?

Who is in charge? What they are doing and why?

Is the government department that regulates cases of contaminated soil involved in this process at all, or is it like a chess game with invisible chess masters?

It is not just intriguing, but puzzling and worrisome, at least to me.

Anyone with explanations or answers, please help explain what is going on.”

Suncor is in charge, and they’re footing the bill, which must be astronomical.

Suncor’s not sweating it – they have VERY deep pockets thanks to the oilsands and Petro-Canada.

So far City of Ottawa taxpayers aren’t on the hook, but they will be! Help Donny keep an eye on Rick on his cronies.

Does the Vox site qualify as an eligible “brownfield” under the city’s Brownfields CIP? The brownfield designation is for the remediation of toxic land – who pays for what and what breaks the developer gets and that kind of thing.

I’ve been told that the sludge has to be covered with “garbage bags” to keep it from getting too soupy in the rain, which would make it very hard to move around the site. I don’t think that airborne contaminants are to be feared – the main problem with the contaminated soil is a) it eventually leaks into our water supply and b) it’s impractical to build on it.

But I’m no expert. Rick (580-2685), Jim (580-2496), Lisa (823-2116), Pierre (990-4300) or Rusty (990-7720) would know, so many somebody should phone and talk to their spin doctors.

Media people read this blog – maybe they’ll look into it, hopefully tasking a real journalist with the complicated job of digging into this toxic brownfields mess and uncovering the truth.

OttawaCouncilWatch commented “if they had removed the contaminated soil I would have noticed a stream of dump trucks both removing the soil and bring new clean soil in to fill the void. I suspect this is only the first stage. The goal was likely to dig to different soil levels and get samples so that they can decide what to do next.

It appears that the Vox saga is far from endgame.

City’s brownfields policy raises many questions

Sue Sherring, Ottawa Sun

There are certain phrases used with overabundance at city hall which tend to send off alarm signals — and one of those is win-win.

(Others include “I’m going to be brief,” “This is just common sense” and “We’re putting the cart before the horse.”) A win-win is how the city’s brownfields project is being described — a winning project for both the taxpayer and the private company involved.

Under the brownfields project, or the Brownfields Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan as it’s officially called — the city coughs up half of the costs for cleaning up contaminated lands to help a developer turn a vacant, useless piece of property into a tax-generating business.

The money the city puts out is recouped through reduced property taxes — see a win-win.

But there are plenty of unanswered questions surrounding the project — questions that no one at the city appears interested in answering.

One of the properties hoping to benefit from the brownfields program is located at 300 West Hunt Club Rd., where Trinity Developments is workings on a major complex with Lowe’s as the anchor.

The home improvement industry is a highly competitive business across the city.

For example, just look at Hunt Club Rd., at Merivale, where there’s a Canadian Tire at the same parking lot as Rona, Home Depot isn’t far off and there’s a Lowe’s being built just down the same street.

The competition is fierce, with each retailer fighting for your dollar.

So it’s understandable that these big box stores are looking out for themselves. And they’re checking out the property at West Hunt Club Rd. and they can’t help but wonder how much of their hard-earned money is actually going into the project — and what kind of advantage the program is giving their competitors.

It’s not just decontamination that’s covered. The city also ponys up to the bar for its share on any number of things, including structural analyses; evaluation of mechanical and electrical systems; upgrading costs for onsite infrastructure including water services, sanity sewers; market analyses; and even a reduction of the building permit fees.

Interesting to note that the city describes brownfields as “abandoned, vacant, or underutilized properties where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived environmental contamination and/or derelict or deteriorated buildings.”

Perceived contamination? Odd.

So you can understand why the other major companies have concerns.

The cleanup was originally estimated at $10 million, $5 million each for the two partners, but rumours have been floating fast and furious that the cost of the project has risen.

Is that true?

Well, turns out you — the taxpayer — can’t handle the truth.

It’s your money, but the city isn’t willing to let you know.

And here’s another gaping hole.

How much does the program cost?

A look in the budget didn’t turn anything up.

“There is no info in the budget on brownfields because the city’s brownfield redevelopment program does not cost the city; in fact, the program is a revenue generator,” said Jocelyne Tuner, one of the city’s many communications spokespeople.

What about staff time, their resources? Good questions.

And doesn’t the developer get the land at a good price, who pays market value for contaminated land?

A request by the Sun given to the city a full week ago to speak for Richard Buchanan, the bureaucrat running the program was essentially ignored, with the paper being told Buchanan was very busy.

Guess the Brownfields project is booming these days.

Who knew?

As with any brownfield program application, a report on the Trinity Development on Hunt Club will come before committee and council for approval.

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3 Responses to what’s that smell?

  1. wanderer says:

    Well, that raised a s**t storm in replies, but still no really useful answers as to what is actually going on, who knows what, how much it costs, and so on and so on.

    I’ll keep looking for answers and contact my MPs, MPPs etc.

    – Please let us know what self-serving misinformation their ‘fartcatchers’ serve up.

  2. Ian Green says:

    I think the soil is full of gasoline, toluene, heavy metals, etc.

    The previous owners of the land had leaky underground tanks (eons old), and the station just dumped everything in there. They could not give a dang! Typical big oil companies.

    Suncor is a money-grubbing firm, just like ALL the other big gas companies.

    Which means you are breathing in gas, toluene, transmission and brake fluid, and other great things!

    Rick- come and investigate if you have the time. The Timmys across the road is still open for doughnuts for a few weeks yet.

    The tarps are supposed to keep the soil from blowing around – they sure as hell do not! They’re all ripped and now they’re not even covered.

    The whole area is contaminated, and will have to be dug up a lot lower than what they are doing now.

    The question is, is where will the contractor bury the soil?

    In a clay-lined pits covered with a special plastic lining, and then a final topping of clay, with vents, and soil on top?

    Or are they too damn cheap and will it get dumped somewhere else?

    I’ve asked the City of Ottawa what’s going on but no answer.

    HRH Watson says that it’s a lot more “transparent” now at the city.

    That’s horse manure!

    They are about as transparent as the fog that covered London England for days in the mid-50s, killing 53 people.

  3. Scott says:

    If you knew anything at all about remediation then you would know that soil has to be tested, and, if it is put back into the ground, then it must have passed. Stop the BS and know the facts.

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