“That’s not to say that anybody’s quantifying that environmental recovery is indeed taking place, rather they just presented data to show that some of this legacy contamination is actually being covered over,” he said, adding that actual cleanup efforts along the 15 kilometre stretch of creek as well as the bay would likely cost over $100 million.
“Although there was contamination in the creek and also in the bay, it just wasn’t practical to clean up,” he said.
When the toxic runoff was first dispatched into the waterway, Bailey said there were no laws in place saying it couldn’t be done.
“It’s not that environmental regulations were lax, there were no environmental regulations. So, that’s a lot different than nowadays, all the effluent regulations are being met.”
Artificial barrier in Marathon harbour working: Bailey
Further east in Marathon, Bailey said that monitoring around a type of cap that was put into Peninsula Harbour in 2012 is showing some good results.
A chemical plant that used to be attached to the former mill in the community dumped mercury into the harbour decades ago, he said.
The $7 million cap is designed to speed up the naturally-occurring sedimentation process, Bailey said.
The former mill in Marathon, Ont. used to have a chemical plant nearby that dumped mercury into Peninsula Harbour decades ago. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
“A process … to get this sediment layer … down on top of this contaminated area would have [naturally] taken decades and decades, and they estimate something like 70 years,” he said.
“That process was accomplished in one summer, with this laying down of this material,” he said.
In the aftermath of those efforts, Bailey said aquatic vegetation and other small organisms are beginning to re-colonize the area.
Additional monitoring data is expected to be compiled in another two years, Bailey said.