Volume 94, Issue 20

Wednesday, October 4, 2000


NEWS

Peeping incidents plague UWO area

Thames toxic blot to be contained

Ottawa students protest tuition changes

Wet/Dry violators to be fined

Smoking may leave you depressed

Alliance MP calls for vote reform

Med students plead for tuition decrease

Thames toxic blot to be contained



By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff



The city of London and London Hydro are storming the shores of the Thames river to clean up and contain 'The Blob.'

The toxic coal blob, a by-product of a London Hydro coal gasification process that went on from 1853 to 1939, was discovered Sept. 13, 1999 near the south bank of the river.

Ed Jambor, senior manager of operations at London Hydro, said clean-up of the coal tar deposit discovered by a wading fisherman last year should be complete by the end of 2000.

"The first contract was awarded to clear the banks of all vegetation as well as building ramps entering the [clean-up] location," he said. "The second contract to dig the actual trench as well as constructing the containment wall and water treatment system went out for bid this week and we are currently looking at three tenders."

Lois Burgess, district engineer at the Ontario ministry of the environment, said the clean-up is a complicated matter involving two separate activities. "It started last winter with the cleaning of the actual river bed. The most recent work, done by Hydro, is the bank brush removal and the construction of the containment wall collection trench," she said.

Burgess said the worst part of the deposit was removed from the river bed and, upon doing so, ministry water sample tests from the Thames have come back clean. "Putting the wall in will be preventing [the possibility contamination] will ever happen in the future. [The wall] is certainly capable of protecting the river," she said.

Jambor said the containment wall will prevent the coal tar from entering the river and keep any toxins out of the ground water system. He said some of the deposit will be removed when the trench itself is built but, for the most part, the coal tar will remain encased in the trench.

"To excavate everything out of the river would be an estimated 30 million dollars," he said in explanation of going with the construction of a containment wall rather than removal of the entire deposit. "[Water coming out of the trench] will be pumped out of the river and out to the parking lot where there will be a water treatment system."

Assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, Amarjeet Bassi, said though the steps taken to clean up the river are good for the city and environment it is not as pressing an issue as made out to be.

"Coal tar is not very soluble in water and if it gets into the water it's not very mobile," he said. "Containment of the deposit is fine; it's the best strategy at the moment," he explained.


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