Volume 93, Issue 75

Friday, February 11, 2000


Braun walks away with presidential gold

Close but no USC cigar

New blob discovered in Thames

Toll systems looked at to improve 401 safety

Seven days from heaven on earth



Caught on campus

New blob discovered in Thames

By Lisa Whitaker
Gazette Staff

The diagnosis for London's blob is an unhealthy one – it seems to be growing, as new seeps are being discovered.

The cleanup of Thames River's toxic coal tar blob, located last October, has uncovered a new contamination site within feet of the original blob, said Ed Jambor, spokesperson for London Hydro and project manager of the cleanup.

The new blob was discovered Monday, when the river was dammed and partially drained in preparation for the excavation of the original blob, Jambor said.

Bob Massecar, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment, confirmed a second blob was uncovered. "We'll do everything we can so that the river won't be contaminated again," Massecar said.

He added the cold winter temperatures were favourable for the cleanup process and reduced the smell of tar emanating from the blob.

The new seeps were located a foot below water level and cover a six foot square area, Jambor said. He described the new contamination as a thick, tarring substance which was contributing to the coal tar deposits in the river.

"We didn't really expect to find more," Jambor said, adding a sweep of the river bed in October 1999, which included soil samples, produced negative results. "It is very hard to predict where it is coming from," he said.

Massecar said the new seeps are separate from the original blob, which is currently being transported to a hazardous waste site in Québec. He said he could not rule out the possibility of more seeps being found.

While there have been several suggestions for the cleanup of the new site, including a 100 foot containment wall and bioremedian and steam vapor extractions, everything is still in the review process, Jambor said. "An isolation dam is currently in place and you can't get it down without proper protection and equipment," he said.

Jambor added London Hydro would start payment on the preliminary bill of $11,000 to investigate the new seeps. He said the stone along the river basin would be removed to get a closer look, in order to fully evaluate the area.

London mayor Dianne Haskett said the City is in discussions with the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources to develop a payment plan for the cleanup.

"Whether [the] City or Hyrdo handle it, it is important to the public that we take steps to stop any further seepage," she said.

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