Size of Centennial project may have to be reviewed because of asbestos problem: Bradley

This map prepared by Golder and Associates shows where asbestos was found in Centennial Park. The yellow indicates more than 0.5 percent found in fill, the blue indicates asbestos in topsoil. The lighter shades show trace amounts. The white circles show no asbestos was found and the gray shows sample areas which have not been analysed.

This map prepared by Golder and Associates shows where asbestos was found in Centennial Park. The yellow indicates more than 0.5 percent found in fill, the blue indicates asbestos in topsoil. The lighter shades show trace amounts. The white circles show no asbestos was found and the gray shows sample areas which have not been analysed.

The Sarnia 2014 Legacy committee may have to rethink the scope of the centennial project after learning it may take months to even find a solution to remove asbestos from Centennial Park.

Golder and Associates pulled soil samples from the park which has been fenced off to the public for weeks and found asbestos and metals such as lead in many of the 130 samples. City Manager Lloyd Fennell says some of the fencing around the MacLean Center will be taken down since that area is clean. But the rest in the north end of the park could remain in place for months.

“We’re moving forward with a risk assessment, looking at all the detail in the 130 holes and then we will come up with an action plan as to how we can handle some of the areas and that plan would then be discussed with the Ministry of the Environment and the local Medical Officer of Health,” says Fennell. Just coming up with the plan could take the entire summer. Then the cleanup would have to be done and that may have to be done in stages according to Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley because of the potential cost of removing the asbestos and metals.

Fennell isn’t sure how the contaminants will be removed saying a full dig out may be required or there may be areas where a geotechnical barrier could be installed and covered with topsoil to form a protective barrier. But he says the cleanup plan is months away.

That leaves the 2014 Legacy committee – a group charged with finding a permanent reminder of Sarnia’s Centennial – in a tight spot.

The group has planned to refurbish the Dow People Place, which is still open to the public but surrounded by fencing. The group is also planning a skating oval and fireplace feature south of the Dow People Place and some of that area remains behind the fencing.

Bradley says the Legacy Committee plans to meet this week to “discuss the impact” of the on-going asbestos problem. “They may have to rethink the scope of the project,” he says adding the idea was to complete the project for 2014, which could be difficult due to the remediation. “It may have to be smaller.”

The mayor adds the group was having success raising funds for the project and so far, he has not heard of anyone who has withdrawn support because of the asbestos find.

Bradley believes the revitalization, coupled with the cleanup, could send a positive message to the community. “It’s a good opportunity to move forward …the park is going to be restored and we’re moving forward.”

– Heather Wright

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