- Contaminated compost in Yarmouth County in Nova Scotia, believed to be from metals from the defunct Ibbitson sawmill, as well as from resident waste such as knives and forks, has raised concerns of groundwater contamination — and now tests have identified lead in wells of two homes in the area.
- Officials say this latest finding will further complicate cleanup efforts that the city knew would be needed prior to the lead discovery, and that the compost is not the sole source of the problem as reported in CBC Nova Scotia.
- The municipality compost was thought to be Class B, which can hold up to three pieces of sharp glass per half liter. But according to Councilman Ken Langille, chair of the Yarmouth water utility, the material "had far more residuals in it than Class B compost, under [what] environment guidelines allows."
While the contamination issue was being thought out before the lead was discovered, the presence of this toxic metal raises new concerns about how to move forward to clean up the soil and water. Type and magnitude of contamination has to be carefully assessed, to safely and strategically manage the cleanup, and this can be complicated and result in aggravating delays as Shelton, WA has learned and continues to be reminded of.
"We have to be very careful not to mess things up anymore than it's been messed up," said Langille to CBC, adding, "The amount of material found in the groundwater in no way would be coming from the compost."
Meanwhile, it was the residents who alerted the town of a likely problem: there was trash popping up from the ground, and they called in to report it.
"There was everything from knives and forks and spoons that people threw in their garbage, in their compost. It's unimaginable the amount of material that is up there," said Langille to CBC, further disturbed by the fact that if it weren’t for this eruption from the ground and consequent lead testing that "the residents up there probably would have never learned about the presence of lead and other chemicals in their well water, and in the water table..."
The Town of Yarmouth will discuss cleanup at its Tuesday meeting. The Nova Scotia Environment Department, testing company EnGlobe, and scientist Paul Arnold from Acadia University will answer residents’ questions at that time.