Dozens of lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans has deemed surplus are either confirmed or believed to be contaminated.
On Tuesday, the federal government announced that 976 of the country’s lighthouses were no longer needed. Canadian Coast Guard officials said they've determined there are more cost effective ways to operate and maintain them.
A CBC News investigation of a federal lighthouse database revealed that 32 of the province's 45 lighthouses on the surplus list are contaminated.
In addition, five more sites are suspected of being contaminated.
According to the government's online records, North America's most eastern lighthouse at Cape Spear is sitting on 72 cubic metres of contaminated soil. The list of contaminants includes lead, metals and metalloids.
Tests are also being done on the soil surrounding the Grand Bank Wharf, in southern Newfoundland, and Brigus sites, west of St. John's, to determine if there are toxins.
Across the province, several lighthouse locations are tainted with oil and metals, such as lead.
On Wednesday, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea told CBC News that efforts to clean up the contaminated sites are ongoing and that any agreements to hand over the lighthouses would include a discussion about cleanup costs.
A spokesperson for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Environment and Conservation Department said the province won't take over any sites with major environmental issues, unless money to clean them up is also provided.
The province's Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation confirmed Wednesday that it is in discussions with the federal government on some of the surplus lighthouses.