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Harbour snow dumping dangerous to environment: biologist

Crews in St. John's have been busy clearing snow from roads across the city, but a biologist says dumping all the cleared snow in the harbour is dangerous to the marine environment.
A biologist says dumping snow in the St. John's harbour is causing damage, reports Krissy Holmes 2:10

Crews in St. John's have been busy clearing snow from roads across the city, but a biologist warns dumping all the cleared snow into the harbour poses a danger to the marine environment.

The city has always dumped its cleared snow in the harbour, but increased traffic and security measures — along with concerns about the environmental impact — has the city looking for other solutions about where to put the snow.

Biologist Ian Jones said when snow gets cleared from the roads, there's plenty of litter going along with it.
Biologist Ian Jones says garbage being dumped along with the city's snow is a danger to the marine life in the harbour. (CBC)

"Just walking along, you see enormous quantities of plastic material in the street, [and] in the snow banks," he said.

"When it gets into the ocean…it's about the same density as sea water, so it's floating around down there either in the water column, or on the surface. [Marine animals] just swim along, and if they see anything that looks like food, they eat it."

Jones conducted autopsies on 243 dead birds collected near Holyrood this time last year, and discovered plastic build-up in their bodies.

"It's an example of marine animals picking up plastic debris. It's not digestible, blocks their gut and they die," he said.

According to Jones, the snow should be dumped at the Robin Hood Bay facility along with the city's garbage to avoid these scenarios.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said the city is looking into other options to save money amid concerns about the environmental impact.

"We have to recognize the reality of how long we will be able to dump snow in the harbour from an environmental standpoint," he said.

O'Keefe said St. John's will continue to dump the snow into the harbour until the city comes up with a better solution to the problem of where to put all the snow.

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