Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook Pulp and Paper to remove nearly century-old waste from Humber Canal

Barges found at the bottom of the canal, located near Deer Lake, date back to the canal's construction in 1920s.

Barges found at bottom of canal near Deer Lake date back to canal's construction in 1920s

The Deer Lake Power facility has been providing electricity to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper for over 90 years. Now, Kruger plans to clean up the 11 km canal that flows into the facility.

Nearly a hundred years after it sunk to the bottom, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is putting together a plan to remove waste from the Humber Canal.

About a year ago residents spotted debris floating in the Humber Canal waters. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper then hired divers, who located two sunken barges used during the original construction of the canal between 1923-1925, and two barrels from the 1940s or '50s.

"It's certainly something from quite a number of years ago," said Darren Pelley, the general manager for Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

"In fact, from many years prior to Kruger's operation of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and Deer Lake Power."

The 11 kilometre Deer Lake Canal was built in the 1920s. This archival photo shows a steam shovel working to dig the canal in 1923. (Town of Deer Lake)

The Humber Canal is an 11-kilometre waterway that connects Grand Lake, the largest lake on Newfoundland, to the forebay at the Deer Lake Power facility. The water is then used to generate electricity to power Kruger's paper mill in Corner Brook.

Pelley said they're not sure if the items were sunk in the canal intentionally, but said Kruger is committed to removing them. A cleanup plan has been submitted to the Newfoundland and Labrador government for approval, with the priority placed on getting the barrels removed first.

While he can't yet give a number on what the cost of removing the debris is, he said it is "significant." 

July completion

Government has sent the plan back to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper for clarification on some issues, but Pelley said the proposed plan involved a combination of divers and excavators.

Remnants of the old days of mill in Corner Brook are visible throughout the region. These wooden booms are still at the mouth of the Humber River near Corner Brook, decades since they were last used for floating logs down the river. (Google Maps)

He said while they want the barges and barrels removed as soon as possible, he said no water contamination was found during preliminary testing.

"We're targeting to be complete before July," he said.

"We take our environmental responsibilities seriously. So the important thing is we take the time do a proper plan."

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show