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Pottersburg PCB storage site decommissioning

Archived Backgrounder

Pottersburg PCB storage site decommissioning

In March 2008 the Province announced funding for the safe destruction of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the Pottersburg PCB storage facility as part of its commitment to reduce toxics, and the continued promotion of safe, clean, liveable communities throughout Ontario.

The Pottersburg PCB storage site on Clarke Road in London is a closed, controlled, secure containment facility owned and operated by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The facility was initially created by Westinghouse Canada in 1984 by order of the MOE to contain PCB contaminated material cleaned up from their property. The containment site was later purchased by the MOE in 1985 to store PCB contaminated soil originating from a number of other industrial properties, as well as sediments cleaned up from Pottersburg Creek and Walker Drain in London. There are 35,500 cubic meters (78,000 tonnes) currently stored on the site.

During the initial cleanup of the material in the 1980s, no technology or approved sites existed for the safe destruction of PCBs. Secure storage was the only option available. New technologies were developed over the last 10-15 years, however, the costs of these methods were prohibitive for large quantities.

The timing of this cleanup is now ideal. Not only are there safe and effective methods for permanently destroying PCBs, but those methods are also cost effective. Today the costs of destroying PCBs are significantly less than they were 10 years ago.

Once the PCBs have been removed from the Pottersburg facility, the 11 acres (approximately 4.5 hectares) of land the facility sits on will be decommissioned to a state that is suitable for industrial use.

Ongoing Site Security, Monitoring and Maintenance

There are no known health risks associated with the ongoing storage of the PCBs at this secured site. The facility consists of four containment cells lined with a non-permeable synthetic liner and about 24 inches of clay. The lined cells are surrounded by a sand/gravel leak detection zone contained within a secondary seal of clay. The ministry monitors the site monthly. No leaks have occurred at the facility.

Destruction of the Pottersburg PCBs

The removal of the PCBs at the storage facility will be conducted by a qualified consultant and the work will be overseen by the ministry. The ministry has issued a Request for Proposal to solicit bidders.

Detailed decommissioning plans will be developed by the successful consultant. All PCB contaminated soil and sediment will be removed and destroyed at a licensed destruction facility in Canada. On-site infrastructure will be removed, and the storage areas will be backfilled with clean soil. A detailed assessment of the site will be conducted after the cleanup to ensure that it was properly decommissioned.

The removal and destruction of the PCB waste is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2009. The site's return to industrial use standards is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.

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Environment and Energy