Developer takes Alberta to appeal board over former Edmonton wood treatment plant

Click to play video: 'Appeal board hears debate over old Domtar wood treatment plant'
Appeal board hears debate over old Domtar wood treatment plant
WATCH ABOVE: An appeal board is debating the fate of the residential development on the site of the old Domtar wood treatment plant. As Sarah Kraus explains, there's a dispute over how to handle contaminated soil – Aug 27, 2018

In what’s anticipated to be the lengthiest appeal on record, Cherokee Canada is fighting five enforcement orders imposed by Alberta Environment and Parks connected to an old wood treatment facility.

READ MORE: Residents notified after chemicals found in soil at old northeast Edmonton wood treatment facility

The developer has started turning the old Domtar site in northeast Edmonton into a new residential community but legal proceedings have halted the project.

“It’s been very difficult because it’s effectively frozen our activities for three years now,” said John Dill, Cherokee Canada’s managing partner.

“It’s very expensive to go through this process.”

Houses have already been built in the Homesteader neighbourhood but recently, the province questioned the safety of the soil.

WATCH: Alberta Health official speaks about chemicals found at former Edmonton wood treatment site

Alberta Environment said third party testing at the site found chemicals dangerous to human health. The orders require Cherokee to remediate any contamination.

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“The core aspect of these orders is to basically remove potentially large amounts of soil from these sites,” said Gilbert Van Nes, general counsel for the Environmental Appeals Board. “Domtar and Cherokee disagree that this is necessary.”

The Environmental Appeals Board hears the case between Domtar (Cherokee Canada) and the province on Aug. 27, 2018. Sarah Kraus, Global News
The former Domtar wood treatment facility site in northeast Edmonton Thursday, June 28, 2018. Kim Smith, Global News
New orders were put in place Friday, March 16, 2018 at the former Domtar wood treatment facility site in northeast Edmonton. Dean Twardzik, Global News
A recent discovery at the old Domtar wood treatment facility site has revealed chemicals in some soil samples. Global News

Both Cherokee Canada and Domtar have completed remediation efforts but are now being told they didn’t go far enough.

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“Our approach was to take the contaminated soil, isolate it in a separate soil berm — again, a common practice in other jurisdictions — and ensure the soil was protected from exposure to other receptors, humans, animal,” Dill said.

“The disagreement is over how we can remediate this site so it’s safe for residential standards so that we can complete our residential development and restore the site that was previously contaminated to productive use.”

READ MORE: No health concerns in residential soil at old Edmonton wood treatment facility: Alberta Health

Three environmental experts are heading up the independent appeal board.

The board will pass its findings on to the environment minister and Shannon Phillips will make the final decision on whether construction can resume. However, a decision is not expected until December.

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