Work Completed to Date
Domtar decommissioned its Edmonton wood processing facility in 1987 in accordance with applicable laws, and all of the originally required environmental clean-up was completed.
An extensive amount of environmental work has been conducted at the former Domtar site, highlights of which are presented below.
The greenspace immediately south of the Overlanders community is referred to as the Greenbelt. This area, which is owned by the City of Edmonton, was never owned by Domtar or used for wood processing. However, some contamination from the former wood processing operations is located at significant depth on the Greenbelt.
A significant portion of the Greenbelt and areas adjacent to the Greenbelt were excavated and cleaned up in the early 1990s with the approval of Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) . All reports that were generated in support of the site investigations and remediation and subsequent monitoring at the Greenbelt were reviewed and approved by AEP.
The Domtar wood processing facility is decommissioned in accordance with applicable laws in 1987.
AEP issues a Water Control Order pursuant to which extensive testing and remediation work is conducted with the approval of AEP.
Domtar commissions an independent human health risk assessment (HHRA) of the site (including the Greenbelt) which is reviewed by AEP. Because the surface soil contamination on the Greenbelt was remediated in 1992, the authors of the HHRA conclude: (1) that there is little opportunity for exposure and (2) that the health risks are low.
Domtar removes over 6,000 cubic metres of impacted soil from the West Pond and residential backyards adjacent to the Greenbelt.
AEP closes the Water Control Order and confirms that all of the Order’s requirements have been satisfied. Some residual contamination is left deep underground with the knowledge and approval of AEP as, based on the HHRA, no significant risk is posed to human health or the environment.
A further HHRA and Ecological Risk Assessment of the former Domtar site is conducted, including the development of remedial objectives.
Cherokee, a company specializing in redevelopment of brownfield sites, purchases the former Domtar site, excluding the Greenbelt which continues to be owned by the City of Edmonton.
2011 – 2013:
Cherokee begins further remediation efforts on portions of the former Domtar site and starts construction of a berm as part of its remedial action plan.
2016 - 2017:
AEP issues an environmental protection order against Cherokee and Domtar that requires extensive sampling and remediation of Parcel X and the Greenbelt. Parcel X is the strip of land along the CN rail line west of the main Domtar site. The Greenbelt is the strip of land east of the Domtar site and adjacent to the Overlanders Community. The order is appealed to and stayed by the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB).
Under AEP mandate, Golder Associates begins in 2017 conducting investigations within the Greenbelt, focusing on subsurface soil contamination.
In March, AEP issues three enforcement orders and an amendment to the 2016 environmental protection order against Cherokee and Domtar. The orders are appealed by Cherokee and Domtar to the EAB and are stayed on the basis that there is no immediate risk.
In conjunction with the AEP’s orders, Alberta Health Services issues an order to the City of Edmonton prevent residents from using the Greenbelt. As a result, the City of Edmonton erects a fence around the Greenbelt.
Surface soil and soil vapour assessments are conducted at the Greenbelt. The results of these assessments are used to complete another HHRA of the Greenbelt. The findings of the HHRA once again indicate that the health of the neighbouring residents and people using the Greenbelt is not at risk.
Extensive evidence is presented by independent experts to the EAB in an extended public hearing.
The EAB issues its report to the Minister of Environment and Parks. The EAB finds that there is no basis for the issuance by the Director of the 2018 orders. With respect to the various orders issued by Alberta Health Services, the EAB observed there was no reason to continue excluding the public from using the Greenbelt for recreational purposes as they have in the past, based on the evidence presented at the hearing.
The Minister of Environment and Parks accepts the Board’s recommendations and findings, quashes all of the 2018 orders and issues a ministerial order to Cherokee and Domtar, as well as separate environmental protection orders to each of Cherokee and Domtar. Under the 2019 environmental protection order issued by the Minister, Domtar is responsible for completing certain supplementary works at the Greenbelt and the adjacent Overlanders Community.