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Paint dumped down drain pollutes pond in North Van city park

Environmental experts have told City of North Vancouver to pump out pond to remove paint sediment. Crews are hoping to minimize impacts on downstream fish populations.

The City of North Vancouver is investigating and is preparing to pump up to 400,000 litres of water from a local pond after paint was spilled into local watercourses near Tempe Heights Park this weekend.

Early investigation shows the paint was dumped into a drain on private property, which then fed into municipal storm drains, according to the City of North Vancouver.

Staff are still working to find out who dumped the paint, the reason why the material was dumped, and exactly what kind of paint it was, according to city spokesperson Pardeep Purewal.

It’s unclear exactly how much paint was dumped, however the paint turned water in the Tempe Heights Park pond and other nearby watercourses a milky white colour over the weekend.

Spill reported Saturday night

City staff first received a report of the problem Saturday night.

Local resident Jason Rivero said he was alarmed to see signs of the apparent pollution in the water while he was out for a walk with his wife on Sunday.

Rivero said he and his wife were walking in the park when he noticed the water in the pond was a strange hue.

“I was sure it was paint,” he said. “I just didn’t know where it was coming from.”

Rivero said city works crews were on site and had placed some absorbent material to try to contain the pollution and clean it up.

Crews were still out at the site on Monday afternoon.

Pollution clean-up underway

Purewal said Tuesday the outlet of the pond has been boomed off and crews have been collecting as much of the pollution as possible. Most of the paint appeared to have collected in the Tempe Heights pond (north of Highway 1) and in Greenwood Park (south of the highway), said Purewal. She added crews are hoping that will reduce any potential impact to downstream fish populations in Wagg Creek.

City staff have been consulting with provincial Environmental Emergency Response staff, as well as environmental consultants, and have been advised they will likely need to pump out the entire Tempe Heights pond to remove any paint sediment that has deposited on the bottom.

The cleanup process is expected to continue for a few days and will include removal of any fish or wildlife in the pond, said Purewal.

To date, one dead fish and numerous live fish have been observed, she added.

Pond to be pumped

An environmental consultant hired by the city will help monitor the removal of water, document all impacted wildlife, and save any native species where possible, she said.

Rivero said he’s especially concerned as he has seen similar kinds of fouling of local watercourses in the past.

He’s previously taken photos of strangely coloured water before and sent emails to Environment Canada but “they sent me to another bureaucratic office somewhere.” Rivero said he’s not sure if his complaint resulted in any action as nobody ever got back to him.

Purewal said depending on the outcome of the investigation, whoever is responsible for dumping the paint could face fines as well as be hit with the cost of the city’s spill response.

Purewal said it’s important for residents to keep in mind that all storm drains eventually flow into downstream fish habitat.

Depositing any material into the drainage system is also a violation of the local bylaws.

If anyone observes a spill, paint, or chemicals being washed into a storm water drain, or a contaminated stream, they should call the city operations department at 604-987-7155 or 604-988-2212 (in the case of after hours emergency). Residents can also call Emergency Management BC at 1-800-663-3456.

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