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Contamination found in sediment of Rideau Canada in Ottawa


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April 17, 2017 by John Nicholson

As reported by the CBC, Parks Canada (the Canadian equivalent of U.S. National Park Service) is testing the sediment along the Ottawa stretch of the Rideau Canal to determine the extent of contamination along the waterway.  Also, Ontario Ministry of the Environment officials are investigating game fish in the canal to determine if they are safe to eat.

The contaminated sediment was first discovered in November of 2016 when workers doing repairs to the canal accidently churned up bottom sediment that contained contaminants.  Testing of the water found heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

The newest set of tests is designed to determine the extent of the contamination the area.  The stretch of contamination is the section of the Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa.  It is suspected that the sediment could be contaminated along several kilometres.

Parks Canada has known for some time that the bottom sediment of the canal has been impact by past industrial activities that existed on its banks including a paint factory, regular train traffic, and steam-powered vessels hauling industrial goods.  The recent repair activities, however, have raised the profile of the issue and raised some concerns amongst fisherman and users of the canal.

With respect to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) investigation on game fish, there is concern that game fish caught along the Canal could have ingested contaminated sediment.  The study will determine the level of contamination in various fish species along the Rideau Canal.

The federal Ministry of the Environment, Catherine McKenna, stated “The sediments in question are low risk to health but of course we are monitoring them and we’ll continue to do so.  Parks Canada is going to be working hard making sure that the conditions are safe and taking appropriate measures.” 

The Rideau Canal is a Canadian National Historic Site and a World UNESCO Site.  It cuts through the heart of the Nation’s Capital and is a very popular for skating in the winter and all sorts of activities in the summer.


John Nicholson

John Nicholson

John is a cleantech and environmental expert with over 25 years of experience. He is a registered professional engineer and has a Masters degree in environmental engineering.
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