CORNER BROOK The company exploring the potential of the Corner Brook watershed area as a quarry will be taking increased measures to ensure all materials at their sites are documented in the future.
Earlier this week, Corner Brook resident Gord Casey, and two friends, found a number of items which they believed to be discarded near Corner Brook Lake after trench blasting last fall. It included six large aggregate bags, blast wire and associated materials, two shopping bags and a bundle of brown paper.
Thomas Resources, which is seeking approval from the city to continue with the next phase of exploratory drilling at the site, officials completed an incident report on the situation.
Rod Mercer, the project lead with Thomas Resources, said the situation was blown out of proportion. Of the materials noted, he said it is essentially two shopping bags and brown paper which were actual waste.
Those could have been left by anybody who visited the area, according to him.
However, the additional measures and increased attention given to environmental concerns are in place to prevent future erroneous accusations against the company.
Mercer is worried about the public perception of his company based on this situation.
“We are going to document, photograph and GPS everything that we find,” he said. “Whether it is ours or not, we will certainly collect it. But, we are going to be more delegant in our surroundings from now on, just from the point of view of being unfairly blamed for something.”
Thomas Resources plans to document site conditions prior to and immediately following any future operations. Documentation will include any existing debris and anything removed from site by crew and sub-contractors.
Daily discussions will continue, with additional emphasis on environmental issues, said Mercer. The company also plans to reiterate its commitment to the environment to sub-contractors and field personnel through environmental awareness sessions.
As previously reported, the large bags used to transport rock samples were not actually discarded or waste. They were rolled up, tied, and left at the site for future use or removal.
Newfoundland Hard-Rok, the blasting sub-contractor, accepted responsibility of the blast wire and materials that were left behind. Also, Thomas Resources officials have since cleaned up this debris from the site.
The City of Corner Brook has also completed its investigation into the incident. A city official accompanied the company representatives to the site.
According to a press release issued Thursday, the city is satisfied all visible signs of debris have been removed. There is no evidence of debris or waste material that would have the potential to impair water quality.
There were no grounds for any charges or further actions, according to the city.
Mayor Neville Greeley, who has publicly expressed support for approving the next stage of exploratory drilling, said the situation has only confirmed his confidence in the company.
Rather than brushing off concerns, company officials responded to the situation with an internal investigation, visited the site to clean up, and put additional measures in place. The mayor was impressed.
“That only confirms my confidence that the company involved here takes environmental issues very seriously and will take all appropriate measures to address anything that is going to bring negative attention to them or have any impact on the city of Corner Brook’s water supply,” he said.
However, Casey was a little less impressed by the company’s response. He applauded their fast action, but said it was done so to look good in the face of public scrutiny.
The Corner Brook man said he has received a tremendous amount of support from people throughout the city for bringing the issue forward. He said the response of the company has done nothing to change his stance against such activity in the watershed area.
“I personally don’t want to turn on my tap at home to wonder if I am getting clean water or maybe there is some contamination there,” he said. “From a random sample, I would be shocked if you find any number of people who support it.
Paul Barnable, the director of community services, said the city has a contingency plan for if there is an interruption to water to the city. However, he said only destruction of the intake would cause the city to be without water.
The director said it is virtually impossible for anything to cause Corner Brook Lake to be prevented from being a water source. If there was a reason it was no longer potable — the city would implement its plan to provide drinkable water. It is the same plan in place in the case of a major water mian break, he said.