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In October, asbestos-containing materials (ACM) were found on Tekakwitha Island by construction workers from the Recreation Bay Restoration Project.
Last Thursday, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) announced that the ACM fragments would be removed at some point, although no start date has been announced.
Three pipes and approximately ten ACM fragments were identified on the surface, and testing in the area revealed a small number of additional buried pieces.
MCK chief and the lead on the asbestos file Cody Diabo said that after making the discovery, the Kahnawake Environment Protection Office (KEPO) performed tests to determine the scope and scale of the contamination.
In total, KEPO estimates that 3,000 cubic metres of soil have been affected.
However, thus far, the ACM has only been found in one specific area on the island.
Diabo said that the crew from Rice Mohawk Landscaping (RML) were clearing brush from the area when they noticed a pipe half-buried in the ground.
As they continued to clear the area, workers then noticed another pipe by the roots of the brush.
“They quickly called KEPO and as KEPO inspected the area, they found more fragments,” said Diabo.
The area in question was being cleared to build a linear marsh and pond as part of the restoration project of the Recreation Bay, which is the reason MCK is prioritizing the remediation of the area, according to Diabo.
Since RML is the contractor of the Recreation Bay Restoration Project, they hired a subcontractor, Sanexen Environmental Services Inc., a company that specializes in the removal of ACM and was previously hired by MCK to do the remediation on Lot 106 and Route 207.
“They (RML) are doing everything that we would be doing. They are hiring the proper company,” said Diabo.
Diabo said that the estimated cost of the remediation is approximately $300,000, but could increase if more ACM is found. The money will be coming out of the global Recreation Bay Restoration Project budget.
“The whole Rec Bay Project is being funded by external sources, and some of those sources haven’t come in yet, so MCK is essentially sort of footing the bill until those other sources come,” said Diabo.
“Ultimately, we’re hoping that it doesn’t all end up coming from MCK because we’re still in negotiations with Canada on getting costs and all that reimbursed,” he said.
Diabo said he understands that many community members are frustrated by this ongoing issue but that the Asbestos Working Group is working really hard on trying to find a final solution.
“In my mind, I feel that any movement is better than no movement. Even though we’re doing small little remediations here and there, we’re essentially chipping away at this really big mess,” said Diabo.
All visible ACM in the area has been bagged and placed in a designated bin for proper disposal outside the community, according to MCK.