Excavation of contaminated soil at CFB Borden’s Firefighting Training Area has now ‘wrapped up,’ with the impacted soil being disposed of in an on-site containment cell. Encapsulating over 91,000 m3 of contaminated soil, the cell is made‑up of layers that include bentonite clay and high‑density polyethylene.

“The soil is wrapped up and contained, like a burrito, so it can’t leach into the ground,” said Pawel Leonowicz, DCC Team Leader, Environmental Services. Leonowicz added that vegetation growth over the cell will help prevent erosion due to the area's sandy soil composition.

The project, supervised by Justin Rodgers, DCC Coordinator, Construction Services, is the result of training practices using firefighting foams that contain per‑ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

“While PFAS is great for fighting fires, the human health and environmental risks coming to light are resulting in a switch to PFAS‑free foams,” said Leonowicz.

In the meantime, funding to mitigate these risks through remediation work was provided by the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan, with 15% provided by DND. A 10‑step Federal Approach to Contaminated Sites process was then followed to determine the extent of contamination, which included water and soil samples, testing, and risk assessments.

The $16‑million contract was awarded in September 2020, and while there’s still some work left, Leonowicz says the project is now substantially completed.

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