Spill won't hurt Wabamun Lake in long run: report
Lake Wabamun won't suffer any long-term damage from a train derailment that dumped 1.3 million litres of heavy bunker fuel oil and wood preservative nearby, according to a new report commissioned by CN Rail.
The spill happenedon Aug. 3, 2005, when aCN freight train left the tracks in the village of Wabamun, Alberta.
The report by environmental assessmentfirm Golder Associates found no problems for algae,plankton, shoreline reeds,and most invertebrates in LakeWabamun.
But researchers did discover some deformities in whitefish eggs incubating insediments containing oil residue.
"There was already considerable amount of adverse affect or deformities in some of those egg populations for conditions not existing because of the spill," said Jim Feeny, a spokesman for the railway. "The increase is relatively small."
The studies began in the months following the spill, prior to some of the more recent clean-up work, Feeny said.
The report alsonotes that the sediments containing oil that affected the fish eggs and an aquatic worm species will also "undergo increased weathering over time with toxicity progressively diminishing to negligible levels."
David Schindler, a water expertat the University of Alberta, agrees the whitefish deformities won't be a long-term problem, but calls it "anotherstraw on the camel's back."
"The fishery up at Wabamun was not in very good shape to begin with. People are always looking for the one big thing. Most of our lake problems are an accumulation of smaller things and this is just one more insult to the lake."
Metals and pesticides are also contaminating the lake, according to the report.
Residents to hire own expert
Residents of Wabamun Lake will hire an expert to review CN's report. Doug Goss, head of the Wabamun Lake citizens committee, said Alberta Environment and Capital Health should also take a closer look at the report.
"There's a lot of background data and tests that have been done on that lake, so I think this has to be taken in the context of all that other stuff, and actually have the experts and people responsible for public safety to say whether or not there's any issues."