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RTG found ‘no risk’ after testing air quality at smelly Rideau LRT station: OC Transpo

The O-Train's Rideau Station in downtown Ottawa, Ont. on Thursday, June 20, 2019.
The O-Train's Rideau Station in downtown Ottawa, Ont. on Thursday, June 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

The air quality inside the reportedly smelly Rideau LRT station poses “no risk” to transit riders and staff, according the consortium contracted to design, build and maintain Ottawa’s Confederation Line.

Following reports of a bad, sulphurous smell at the underground station last week, Rideau Transit Group (RTG) conducted and finished air quality tests, according to John Manconi, head of OC Transpo.

“Results have been shared with Ottawa Public Health and they have expressed no concerns about these preliminary results,” Manconi said in an email sent to media late Thursday afternoon.

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An OPH spokesperson confirmed public health officials reviewed the “initial” results of the air quality tests.

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“The initial results of the test were shared with Ottawa Public Health and we have received confirmation that no hazards were detected,” the spokesperson wrote.

Last week, riders on the light-rail train started reporting the unpleasant smell at Rideau, the deepest of the LRT system’s three underground stations all beneath Ottawa’s downtown core.

READ MORE: Back on track? No train shortage on Ottawa’s LRT during peak hours Tuesday, OC Transpo says

Sarah Wright-Gilbert, a citizen member of the city’s transit commission, described the underground tunnel as smelling “eggy” on Jan. 31.

According to a statement provided to Global News on Thursday, RTG believes the odour in question is “due to stagnant water that is infiltrating into the tunnel near Rideau Station.”

“It is important to note that all tunnels experience some water infiltration,” said the statement, attributed to Troy Charter, OC Transpo’s director of transit operations.

“RTG has informed the city that injecting grouting may be undertaken to reduce or eliminate the water infiltration at this location. There are no concerns with the tunnel’s structural integrity.”

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Head of OC Transpo says LRT maintenance group will bring in outside experts to help improve service

According to Charter, an environmental consulting firm is “assessing the smell” to find out what can be done to contain it or snuff it out altogether.

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Manconi and Charter both said that RTG will provide more updates on the smell at Rideau Station at the transit commission’s next meeting on Feb. 19.

OC Transpo has also been grappling with a prolonged bad smell at Parliament Station — the underground station immediately west of Rideau — essentially since the LRT system opened to the public mid-September.

READ MORE: Company responsible for Ottawa LRT maintenance hiring outside experts to help improve service

A nearby sewer pipe had been punctured and was leaking, city officials said in November. The City of Ottawa confirmed to Global News last month that RTG completed repairs to the sewer pipe in December.

However, transit commission heard last month that the station still smelled badly. The CEO of RTG told commissioners on Jan. 23 the consortium was still trying to find the source of the odour and didn’t believe it was “tunnel-related.”

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