Asbestos dredging will continue in Sumas River this year

The City of Abbotsford will have to continue dredging asbestos out of the Sumas River in 2011.

The City of Abbotsford will have to continue dredging asbestos out of the Sumas River in 2011.

The naturally occurring material is carried from a watercourse in the U.S., and settles in the river sediment. The river has been dredged annually for flood control, but the presence of the carcinogen means city workers must take special measures, including protective gear for workers.

“WCB commended us on the job we did (last year),” said Jim Gordon, city general manager of engineering.

Wet asbestos is not a known hazard, but if it is inhaled the substance can cause cancer. There is a chance that if the Sumas River waters flooded, the material could spread, and as it dried, people could be exposed to health risk.

“There’s a chance it could be dangerous,” said Gordon. “If there’s a chance, we have to take the proper measures.”

In 2009 officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warned the city about the asbestos. There is a Sumas Mountain in Washington state, and a slide on the mountain has exposed naturally occurring asbestos. It is picked up by Swift Creek, which drains into the Sumas River and ultimately the Fraser River.

Asbestos levels were actually higher in the Sumas River than in Swift Creek last year.

Gordon said the city has also been in touch with U.S. officials, to see whether they can stop or reduce the amount of asbestos.

According to a city press release, sampling of the sediments dredged from the Sumas River in 2010 showed similar trends to 2009 results.

“Testing indicated that sediments from the dredging locations closer to the Canada-U.S. border contained higher asbestos levels than locations further downstream,” said Mayor George Peary in the release. “Also similar to the 2009 investigation, there was a spike in asbestos levels at the location downstream of the confluence with McKay Creek, however, no contamination was found in McKay Creek.”

Following the results of the sediment testing, Peary sent a letter to the provincial environmental ministry urging them to discuss the matter with the US Environmental Protection Agency and encourage them to employ efforts to minimize the release of the naturally-occurring asbestos sediments in Washington State into the Sumas River.

The dredged asbestos is taken to the Valley Road landfill, and covered with soil.

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

Just Posted

Car giveaway set for MEI on Friday

One lucky alumni member will receive a new Mazda 3

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Abbotsford Police issue 81 speeding tickets in school zones over 2 days

‘30 in 30’ traffic-enforcement blitz took place last Thursday and Friday

Salvation Army kettle campaign raises $121,000 in Abbotsford

Christmas fundraising up $20,000 over previous year

VIDEO: Chilliwack arson victim lights up rural property like a runway

Chris Thompson had enough after twice having barns torched in suspicious circumstances

Party bus door fault for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Most Read