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North Bay council to vote on cost and scope of cleaning contaminated soil at airport

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The City of North Bay is planning to start on-site remediation of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at the Jack Garland Airport property as early as this spring.

The work will be subject to city council’s approval next week of an increase in contract price and scope for the environmental consultant overseeing the engineering and design of the remediation plan.

Under a $20-million agreement with the Department of National Defence, 97 per cent of the remediation project will be funded by the federal government. The city would cover the other three per cent.

PFAS are substances found in many consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foam. Use of the airport lands for firefighter training from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s is the main source of PFAS on the airport property.

The scope of cleanup includes removing and treating the most contaminated soil, injecting adsorptive material into hot spots at the site's boundary to treat groundwater before it exits, and placing adsorptive material at exit locations to prevent PFAS in surface water from leaching downstream.

The City of North Bay is planning to start on-site remediation of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at the Jack Garland Airport property as early as this spring. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

“The development of a PFAS remediation plan has been a complex undertaking that began more than two years ago,” Mayor Peter Chirico said in a news release.

“We are extremely pleased that cleanup efforts at the airport site are now about to get underway.”

A staff report recommended the contract with Jacobs Consultancy Canada Inc. be increased to $8 million from $5 million to accommodate the increase in scope. The matter goes to council Feb. 27.

The increase in scope includes remediation design, site supervision, sampling analysis and reporting. The cost of the remediation work will also be covered under the DND funding agreement.

Since 2017, the city has been working with federal and provincial organizations to test and monitor PFAS in Trout Lake, Lees Creek and residential wells located near the lands.

“Our priority throughout this process is and has been the health and safety of our residents,” Chirico said.

A long-standing drinking water advisory for Lees Creek remains in place as well as a fish consumption advisory for fish from the creek.

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