Water monitoring continues two years after massive Minto tire fire

·3 min read
Tires burn behind TRACC Tire Recycling in Minto, about 40 minutes northeast of Fredericton, on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press - image credit)
Tires burn behind TRACC Tire Recycling in Minto, about 40 minutes northeast of Fredericton, on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press - image credit)

Water from the site of the Minto tire fire is still being collected and treated, more than two years after the fire burned for several days in the village.

The Department of Environment and Local Government has previously told CBC News that a number of different contaminants have been found in monitoring wells, including "petroleum hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metals, dioxins and furans," as well as the pollutant perfluorooctanesulfonic acid.

But the groundwater that has been "impacted" by contaminants related to the tire fire seems to be flowing away from the water supplies people rely on in the village, a government spokesperson said.

"The environmental findings continue to show groundwater impacted by the tire fire is either limited to the site or moving in a southwesterly direction and away from nearby potable water supplies," spokesperson Vicky Lutes wrote in an emailed statement.

She said remedial activities continue at the tire fire site about 50 kilometres east of Fredericton, and groundwater, surface water and potable water wells are being monitored.

TRACC covering remediation costs

No one from the department would provide an interview to offer more details about environmental monitoring related to the massive fire, which started burning piles of rubber in December 2019.

No one from Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation, known as TRACC, provided an interview either. A spokesperson directed questions to the Department of Environment.

Office of the Fire Marshal
Office of the Fire Marshal

"I can say that TRACC has covered all remediation costs," TRACC senior adviser David Besner wrote in an email.

It's not clear how high those costs have climbed. TRACC previously filed two lawsuits, naming several insurers. One statement of claim alleged the insurers failed to cover numerous costs related to the fire.

Court records show both lawsuits have been discontinued but offer no details on how they were resolved.

Company hired to carry out monitoring

TRACC hired a company called Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions to do the groundwater and surface water monitoring at the site. The company then provides those test results to the province, Lutes said.

The company filed an environmental site assessment to the province on TRACC's behalf last fall. CBC obtained a copy of the assessment through access to information.

It says Wood's role is "to oversee initial environmental emergency response, environmental investigations and remediation in relation to the tire fire at the TRACC tire recycling plant property."

The report describes how groundwater is flowing in a southwestern direction toward Newcastle Creek and how contaminants "could be limited to the shallow groundwater flow and away from the residential wells, should contaminants migrate to bedrock."

It says groundwater samples from potable wells are collected and tested to assess the water quality "on a quarterly basis."

The tire fire started around suppertime on Dec. 20, 2019. Workers were welding on a piece of equipment outside the TRACC building, close to a pile of tires and shredded material, according to records CBC previously received through access to information.

A worker "hooked a wand up to the air hose" and blew out the shredded tire dust and fluff that was smouldering inside a light fixture, the records show. Live embers landed "all over the place below."

A neighbour returning home from a Christmas party noticed the fire and called 911.

The fire marshal's office has previously said the fire was accidental in nature but declined to say how it started.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting