Five Island Lake

Five Island Lake
Community Liaison Committee

Newsletter #9, September 2000

Dear Fellow Residents ….

We are pleased to inform you that the first phase of the lake clean-up is now complete, and that the next phase is underway. On May 30, the Honourable Ron Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works, announced that the government had committed funds in the 2000/01 budget to continue the dredging and disposal of the PCB contaminated sediments in the North Bay of Five Island Lake.

On behalf of all the residents of the area we have sent a letter to the Minister expressing our appreciation for the Department's support in helping to make this clean-up a reality.

In this newsletter we briefly describe what has been accomplished so far and the plans for the rest of this year. As always, we appreciate receiving any comments or questions you may have. Please e-mail us at or call any of the following community representatives on the Liaison Committee:

John Hoyt (chair), Three Brooks, 876-2722
Richmond Campbell, Cambrians Cove, 876-7847
Ken Jakeman, Lake of the Woods, 876-2510
John Jardine, Five Island Lake, 876-2724
Danny LeBlanc, Sheldrake Lake, 876-8179
Joyce Milley, Hubley Lake Road, 876-5000
Wayne Nicholson, Five Island Lake, 876-2294
Murray Power, Sheldrake Lake, 876-8236
Shawn Redmond, Glen Margaret, 823-3068

The Clean-up So Far

The contractor hired to carry out Phase 1 of the dredging completed their work in early April, 2000. In total, 58 trailer loads containing 1,526 tonnes of partly dewatered sediments were sent for disposal out of province. The actual quantity of PCBs removed from North Bay is calculated to be almost 21 kilograms.

As was explained in the last newsletter, the contractors experienced some difficulties when carrying out Phase 1.  Instead of being able to take advantage of naturally low water levels in the middle of the summer, the contractor had to lower the water level in North Bay artificially later in the season. They then ran into complications when October storms brought heavy rains, putting considerable pressure on the downstream side of the embankment and control weir at the outflow of North Bay. This caused delays, which meant that the contractor eventually also had to contend with ice. As a result it took several extra months to complete the contract. By using the lessons learned during Phase 1, the Department of Transportation and Public Works expects that Phase 2 will experience fewer difficulties.

The dredging contract has been awarded to Dexter Construction Company Ltd. of Bedford, with Safety-Kleen Ltd., who conducted all previous dredging, as a major sub-contractor. Another sub-contractor, Matrix Environmental, will carry out the environmental monitoring and permit management. Due to current budgetary constraints, the Province intends to complete the dredging of North Bay over a two year period (2000 and 2001).

Dexter have already moved their equipment on site, reinforced the weir structure, lowered the water level in North Bay, and started dredging.

What Has Gone; What Remains

Unfortunately, once PCBs escape into the environment, it is very difficult or impossible to retrieve them all. As we have pointed out in previous newsletters, we know that some of the PCBs had escaped from North Bay long before the Liaison Committee was formed. We also knew that dredging the North Bay sediments would capture most but not all of the PCBs in North Bay. Therefore it is likely that the health advisory on eating fish caught in the upper Wooden's River watershed will remain for a number of years.

However, a large proportion of the PCBs in the North Bay has now been removed, reducing the possibility of downstream impacts. It is estimated that the dredging removed 96% of the PCBs from the Phase 1 area, leaving an average residual concentration of 2 parts per million (ppm) at the sediment surface. The target was 1 ppm but this was not reached because of the difficulty of dredging around rocks and boulders. The final phases of dredging will remove most of the remaining 49 kg of PCBs in the rest of the bay.

Rails to Trails

The abandoned rail line that runs between North Bay and Five Island Lake is being converted to a multi-use recreational trail (a project sponsored by the St Margarets Bay Rails to Trails Association). As part of the restoration process after the first phase of the lake clean-up, a new section of trail was created around the area where Western Brook flows into the North Bay. The newly constructed trail is more attractive than the old right of way and separates the trail from the roadway. The photo below shows the relocated trail section.