Any work on Deer Lake Canal will require complete engineering study, says paper company

Gary Kean gkean@thewesternstar.com
Published on August 18, 2014

The Town of Deer Lake has the document it was waiting for from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper regarding seepage from the canal near the Deer Lake Power plant.

Now, Mayor Dean Ball is waiting for more information from the provincial government before deciding the town’s next move in dealing with the issue.

Residents who live along Deer Lake Canal are fed up with flooding in their homes which they have attributed to water seeping from the canal. They have even threatened to take legal action because they feel Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, the Town of Deer Lake and the provincial government have been too slow in taking action to address the issue.

In early July, Ball said the town was waiting to get something in writing from the paper company, which owns the hydroelectricity plant that supplies power to the mill in Corner Brook. The town now has that document, a copy of which was supplied to The Western Star.

In the letter signed by Richard Tull, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s general manager, the company said it is taking the issue seriously and has reviewed the situation with Deer Lake Power’s management team. Maintaining the dams and berms at the site in the best possible condition is “always our top priority” wrote Tull before going into detail about how this is ensured.

Tull said frequent inspections have affirmed that maintenance of the slopes and road surfaces of the berms has ensured their good condition for the more than 90 years they have been there. Ongoing maintenance, he added, is based on a timetable created through a due diligence assessment done by a consultant — AMEC — which was updated last in 2012.

In addition to the basic maintenance tasks, the company noted its employees remove heavy foliage, trees and bushes from the sides of the slopes of the berms for added safety.

The company also monitors the measurement weirs implemented to ensure that seepage through and under the canal and canal berms do not jeopardize the integrity of the berms.

Tull concluded the dams and berms at the site meet industry and government standards and are in proper condition.

He said he understands the need to find answers to the problems brought forth by residents and that the company is willing to co-operate should the municipality require further investigation.

The company noted this is a complex issue and any work proposed by the municipality or anyone else would require a complete engineering study to ensure the integrity of the structures in question is not compromised.

Ball said the file is far from being completed and is waiting to see what the provincial government, who also sent out officials to investigate the situation, has to say.

He figures there may be a series of issues combining to create the flooding problems that have actually plagued the area for years. The solution, added Ball, may also require a team effort from the municipality, the province, the company and the residents.

“We’re not taking this lightly,” said Ball. “Our eyes are wide open and, whatever comes out of this, we’re trying to find the proper solution.”