A local biologist says the City of Ottawa might have inadvertently created a major environmental problem dealing with the emerald ash borer.

The city has been cutting trees infested with the pest in an effort to prevent the spread of the beetles and lessen the damage to the city's trees.

But dealing with the trees after they have been cut has proved problematic. A pile of ash trunks, about the size of a football field and five metres high, now sits at the Trail Road landfill.

While the trees may be dead, contractor and biologist Burt van Ingen said the beetles are starting to fly from the site, hitching rides from trucks moving in and out of the dump.

"Now, they fly, and they land on your windshield, they fall in the back of your trailer or they land on a garbage truck, and they go for a nice long ride. And when they get the opportunity, away they go," said van Ingen.

Coun. Peter Hume said the city is hoping to sell the valuable ash for lumber, which is potentially worth millions of dollars.

He said it is a concern the giant woodpile could now be helping to spread the infestation further afield.

"We've asked for requests for proposals, but we need to speed that up. We need to get this wood off of our land and into productive hands as soon as possible," said Hume.

'Somebody goofed'

Van Ingen said he thinks some of the damage is already done.

"Somebody goofed," said Van Ingen.

The ash borer is a highly destructive beetle that feeds on the bark of ash trees.

It was first noticed in North America in 2002 and has killed millions of trees in Ontario and the United States. Trees infested with the beetle's larvae can lose half their branches within a year and usually die within two to three years.

While the ash borer only attacks ash trees, ash makes up about a quarter of the forest cover in the city.