Cement the latest McKenzie Interchange runoff in Cuthbert Holmes Park

Cement the latest McKenzie Interchange runoff in Cuthbert Holmes Park

Cement “deadly” for young salmon

A longstanding steward of Cuthbert Holmes Park was stunned to find wet cement making its way into the salmon-bearing Colquitz River estuary from the McKenzie interchange construction last week.

It’s the latest contaminated source of runoff from the project into the river, and while representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure believe the contamination is minimal, environmental advocate Dorothy Chambers noted this never should have happened in the first place.

“Our environmental tests showed there was no cement in the river,” said Janelle Erwin, MOTI deputy director, south coast region.

However, Chambers disagreed. It was Chambers who discovered the contamination and pooling of cement, which has since hardened against the silt fences that crews placed to protect the park from runoff.

“I think it’s a ridiculous assumption on their part that wet cement didn’t reach the water,” Chambers said. “There were no monitors were on site, it was a mininum four to six hours before testing, and I’m quite sure it was the next day they tested [a running river]. When I returned everything was moved, the drill equipment, and a vacuum truck was there removing materials.”

Chambers talked to members from all levels of government, municipal, federal, and provincial, and said concern went beyond the contamination, as the spill should have been reported immediately.

“This is something that absolutely has to be reported immediately by the crew who did this, and they didn’t,” Chambers said. “It was up to me to report it, and as soon as I did, there was an investigation, straw was laid and a pump truck came to remove contaminants.”

Wet cement, clay and sediment are all threats to the young salmon which live in the Colquitz River, said Chambers, who leads the Colquitz fish counting project.

Work on the $85 million project is bustling with an expected completion date for mid-2019, with heavy duty rock scaling, removal and excavation underway. A berm of rock and fill is also filling up fast on the border of Cuthbert Holmes Park between the highway and Burnside Road.

It’s along the edges of the construction border with Cuthbert Holmes that a series of drill holes were made last week, up to 70 feet deep. A ministry statement said that once drilling was completed, an instrument to measure slope stability was installed with grout to hold it in place within the hole. The grout was a mixture of bentonite grout and Portland cement.

MOTI confirmed that there was an environmental investigation completed and that a vacuum truck was used to remove the accumulated sediment from the bases of the silt fences and some of the light layer of sediment on the grass (as much as possible without disturbing the vegetation) and the remainder was covered by straw.

However, the ministry statement said that its silt fences captured the majority of the clay sediment and that the results of an independent environmental consultants’ investigation show there was no contaminated runoff.

“It was a mixture of the non-chlorinated potable water (used to lubricate the drill) and the native subsurface clay that was disrupted while drilling the hole,” said MOTI. “The clay sediment mixed with the ground water and caused it to become murky and grey-coloured. It was not the use of grout that caused the change in water colour.”

MOTI also said that before any more drilling occurs near the silt fences, all existing silt fences are being examined and repaired as needed. As well, during future drilling activities, crews will continuously walk between the last silt fence and the river.

But Chambers and others in the area see it as just another incident of contaminants making their way from the McKenzie interchange to the Colquitz River and estuary.

– This story was updated for clarity on March 22

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

A drilling operation at the McKenzie interchange project has led to the latest contamination with cement runoff reaching the Colquitz River. Cement also pooled, and hardened, along the perimeter fence. Submitted

Just Posted

Victoria police will be making numerous arrests throughout the day Jan. 27 as part of its #VicPDWarrantWednesday project. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Numerous arrests today part of Victoria police #WarrantWednesday project

VicPD says arrests part of warrant enforcement project

Victoria police are seeking a young woman suspected of spitting on a bus driver in October 2020. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Young woman sought after ‘spitting assault’ on Victoria bus driver

Suspect became irate after bus came to a sudden stop

Police are warning people of flu shot and vaccination frauds. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flu shot fraud charges West Shore resident for non-existent appointments

Fraudulent email claimed to be from London Drugs

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in Juan de Fuca Strait

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read