More than a month after a chemical leak at Prince Albert’s water treatment plant, the city’s elected officials are facing a hefty cleanup bill.
Immediately following a chemical spill of caustic soda on Dec. 10, city manager Robert Cotterill authorized the hiring of Envirotec Services Inc. at a cost of $101,237.
“We needed to remove the caustic soda immediately,” he explained during Monday’s city council meeting.
What about the Prince Albert Fire Department’s services, Coun. Charlene Miller asked.
“The volume of the material that we were dealing with, we did not have any equipment within the city to be able to handle that,” Cotterill responded.
“We also had to dispose of it when we were finished, and I must say that we were within 15 minutes of having a major problem at the plant, so the decision that we made at the time was the right decision.”
The caustic soda was removed before it created problem, Cotterill noted.
“I think with a dollar amount this large, there are some questions, and I guess I’d like to see that reflected in your report,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski said. “We should know where that money’s coming from.”
Mayor Greg Dionne said that any funds would come out of the water treatment plant’s budget, though the implications of this expenditure on the budget process has yet to be determined.
“We do have insurance … with the contractor, so we will be dealing with the contractor,” Cotterill said.
Although the city must pay the initial bill, the city is “certainly in discussion” with the contractor over payment, he clarified after the meeting.
What Dionne wanted council to consider while looking over the cost is the magnitude of the spill.
“It was not a small amount,” he said. “The fire department is adjusted for small spills, but when it comes to tens of thousands of gallons, they’re not equipped to handle that.”
The spilled material ran into the water treatment plant’s containment area, preventing major environmental implications.
The spill was triggered by an employee bumping a pipe with his head. He was showered and taken to the hospital after the incident, though he asked not to go.
The crew was at the water treatment plant to assess some remedial work that the city identified as being unacceptable, Cotterill explained in December.