Hydrocarbon levels within permitted levels in Grande Prairie wetlands after spill

·3 min read

The City of Grande Prairie says hydrocarbon levels in the wetlands adjacent to the Lakeland Off-Leash Dog Park are within permitted levels after a reported release earlier this summer.

On June 8, it was reported by the city that a hydrocarbon had been released into the wetlands. The statement came six days after the city was made aware of the spill.

A concerned citizen using the Lakeland dog park notified the city of the incident, said Michelle Gairdner, city energy management and environmental services manager.

She said the public was not informed until there was confirmation and a sample was taken for testing.

“There was hydrocarbons present that exceeded the allowable guidelines, and that's when we put the signage up,” said Gairdner.

The city then advised users via a media release and on social media to not allow their dogs in the water there.

Signage was posted along the northern edge of the Lakeland dog park, which meets with the wetlands. The wetlands face the dog park to the south, a road to the north, and an industrial area adjacent to the west.

On June 9, a city update stated the extent of the hydrocarbon release was being determined and that booms were in place to contain the unknown material and protect the wetlands from further contamination.

However Gairdner says booms were set up immediately on June 2 when the spill was confirmed, before city representatives met with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) on June 8.

After the meeting with AEP, a media release and social media posts were made online.

Gairdner says they still do not know how much of a hydrocarbon was released into the wetlands.

“We don't have the numbers; we do know they exceeded the guidelines, we're not sure where they came from, and they sort of break down on their own, and then that's why the levels have decreased,” she told Town & Country News.

She said booms and pads were used to clean what they could on the surface of the affected water and soil.

Gairdner said investigation into the spill will fall to AEP.

Town & Country News contacted AEP and was told the department had no record of the spill and referred this reporter to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

In an emailed response, the AER said, “On June 2, 2022, the Grande Prairie Field Centre received a complaint from the City of Grande Prairie noting that they were forwarding a concern from a public complaint into their office.

“A trucking company was allegedly washing a deleterious substance into a wetland.

“It was determined that the incident was not under AER jurisdiction and was sent to AEP for follow-up.

“AEP has been managing the file since that time and is working with the City of Grande Prairie to resolve the incident.”

The AER then said it had not had any further involvement with the incident beyond June 2.

Gairdner says the city has met with the AEP multiple times – and about four times for this incident.

“I'm not sure that they determined the source, we just looked at how to move forward, and so the city is committed to doing ongoing sampling,” said Gairdner.

She says the city has added the wetlands to the city’s water sampling schedule. She noted the wetlands were not previously on the testing schedule.

The city is now continuing to ask pet owners to keep their pets out of the wetlands.

“Wetlands are sensitive ecosystems and support a variety of migratory birds, waterfowl, foxes, insects and other species,” said the city in a media release.

“It is best for the wetland to have minimal disturbances.

“The water within the wetland may also be stagnant, which is not healthy for your pet.”

The city said signage would be adjusted to remind pet owners to keep their pets out of the wetlands.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News