What lies beneath: Sarnia okays Centennial Park testing

Centennial Park was partially fenced off this summer after a tar-like substance was found.Heather Wright

Centennial Park was partially fenced off this summer after a tar-like substance was found.
Heather Wright

It will likely take two or three months to figure out exactly what is oozing from the ground in Centennial Park.

Just before the 2012 summer festival season began, a tar-like substance was found coming from the ground right where many of the activities, including Bayfest’s week-long concerts, were taking place. The area – about 75 by 100 feet – was fenced off and graveled over while Golder and Associates began investigating.

The environmental consultants, in a report to council, say there may be chemicals and materials used the salt and lumber industries, as well as some dredging materials. The report says there may have also been some waste disposal areas in the area.

The report adds there was a coal gasification plant east of the park on land now owned by Bluewater Power and it says some of the tar-like material was found along Front Street during sewer and water main maintenance.

City council has approved a $55,700 contract for Golder to start taking soil samples of the area. “It will find out how much there is, what we are dealing with, and what we should do for remediation,” says City Engineer Andre Morin.

There will be seven boreholes on the eastern perimeter of the park, and 24 test pits where the substance was found. The samples from the three-meter deep test pits will be analyzed and Golder will come up with some solutions to the problems.

Golder will also be asked to consider testing around the Dow People Place at the request of Councilor Anne Marie Gillis. “How far with this migrate? I am wondering if it wouldn’t be prudent and wise to look around the Dow People Place because of the potential of working there with the Legacy project?”

City staff agreed adding Golder is “also placing monitoring wells…to determine what is moving where,” says Morin. “If it appears the product is moving a certain way, they will determine what can be done in the future.”

Morin adds the testing will take between eight and 10 weeks.

– Heather Wright