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Underground Salt Migration Serious
Groundwater Contaminated in Hughenden-Czar Area
Alberta Environment is monitoring the migration of an underground plume of water that is contaminated with salt that originated from industrial activity in the M.D. of Provost over a 45 year span.
The plume is appearing in the Hughenden-Czar area about 60 to 70 feet down but there is evidence of some salt now reaching the surface and that has some residents very concerned about the potential pollution of their dugouts and to soil that could cause crop damage.
From 1950 to 1985 Alberta Underground Storage Ltd. (AUSL) operated an unlined brine pond as part of their gas storage operation. A licence was obtained and fresh water was pumped from Shorncliffe Lake to wash four underground salt caverns. That resulting saline water (brine) was then pumped into an alkali lake for storage.
In 1985 AUSL stopped operation and removed piping. No efforts were undertaken to restore the alkali lake. In 1996 a shallow water supply about 2.4 kms southeast of the alkali lake encountered high chloride concentrations (40,000 mg/L). Based on available information, typical chloride concentrations measured in shallow groundwater were less than 50 mg/L.
Alberta environment says that in 1997 and 2002 two geophysical surveys were done that indicated chloride was migrating outwards from the alkali lake.
A spokesman for Alberta Environment, Kim Hunt told The News that it is a large plume, estimated to be two kilometres long but very narrow. It appears to have moved about two kilometres southeast of the alkali lake, heading towards Shorncliffe Lake.