Second leak detected at Domtar cleanup site |
By MATT HUNT GARDNER
SYDNEY - For a second time, the petrochemical naphthalene has leaked from the
cleanup site of the Domtar tank.
Sydney Tar Ponds Agency spokesman Parker Donham confirmed Wednesday that the
strange smell near the Domtar tank earlier this week was caused by a leak of
"I was driving by Monday and noticed a smell that was different than a sewer
smell," Mr. Donham said from Halifax.
He said air quality tests and a work stoppage were immediately ordered because
last time a strange smell wafted from the Domtar tank, it was naphthalene
Naphthalene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that smells like mothballs when
released into the air.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency says naphthalene can cause
hemolytic anemia, cataracts, jaundice, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain.
Clean Harbours Canada Ltd. won the $3.6-million contract to clean up the Domtar
tank, which holds coal-tar oil and toxins similar to those at Sydney's tar
The heating process used to make it easier to transfer the coal-tar oil to
transport trucks is what produces naphthalene. Monitors are used daily to
detect chemicals outside the building housing the tank.
On Monday, the monitors weren't working because of the stormy weather in Sydney.
So canisters lined with resin were used to take samples, which were sent to ESL
laboratories in Sydney.
Power outages meant it took until Wednesday afternoon to analyse the canisters.
Mr. Donham said two samples taken downwind of the tanks on Monday registered
1.37 micrograms of naphthalene per cubic metre of air and 3.92 micrograms of
naphthalene per cubic metre of air.
He said the level is below the one-hour Sydney standard of 5.0 micrograms per
cubic metre. The 24-hour naphthalene standard for Sydney is 3.0 micrograms per
Naphthalene was not detected in samples taken Tuesday, Mr. Donham said.
On June 4, the Sydney Tar Ponds Agency received test results from an
air-monitoring station reporting an elevated level of naphthalene in the air on
or before May 27. The reported level was 12.3 micrograms per cubic metre.
The leak shut down the cleanup until mid-July, and before work resumed, several
changes were made to make gas leaks less likely.
Two fans the size of rail cars are used to keep negative pressure inside the
building surrounding the Domtar tank, which keeps gases from leaking. Mr.
Donham said the high wind Monday probably caused a pressure imbalance and the
Clean Harbours stopped the cleanup work Monday. On Wednesday afternoon, workers
began to heat up the coal-tar oil inside the tank and expected by evening to
have a truck leave for Quebec, where the oil is being incinerated.