Environment officials investigating wastewater spill from potato wash plant into stream

·2 min read

The P.E.I. government is investigating a wastewater spill from PEI Potato Solutions, a potato pre-processing and washing facility in New Annan.

The provincial Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change said in a statement to CBC News that on December 27, the department received a report from the public about a wastewater discharge, coming from treatment lagoons at the facility.

Staff from the department visited PEI Potato Solutions that day and confirmed the discharge had flowed into a headwater stream of the Barbara Weit River, over a length of about 500 metres.

Water was 'discoloured white and grey'

"The water at that time was discoloured white and grey, and smelled of potato waste. No dead fish were observed," the statement read.

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

Staff returned to inspect the facility two days later, on December 29.

They then directed the facility's owners "to lower the level of water in the lagoons to allow one-metre freeboard at all times," said the statement.

Freeboard means the space between the high-water mark and the top of the lagoon structure.

Wastewater management plans requested

The department also directed the owners to stop the flow of wastewater from the lagoons completely, and remove any wastewater from the ditches around the property.

Along with those instructions, the department directed the owners to provide both short and long-term management plans for the wastewater, until a new permanent system is in operation.

The department took water samples from the river on both Dec. 27 and 29, but has not received any results yet.

The department said the investigation into the wastewater spill is ongoing.

Owner following directives

The owner of the plant, Austin Roberts, said the company wants to do things right and is following all of government's directions. Roberts told CBC News the lagoons will eventually be eliminated and the plan is to recycle all of the wastewater from the plant.

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