The Peace River Regional District is looking to decommission the newly built water station in Rose Prairie after explosive levels of gas were found in its system the day before it was to open to the public.
According to a March 4 report to the Electoral Area Directors Committee, the station’s operator was conducting final checks on the system on Feb. 21 when they observed a change in the treatment storage tanks. Further testing of the air within the tanks found explosive levels of gas.
The source water is from a well, contained in a small pump house, 1.4 km from the bulk tankloader.
The pump house was also tested, and while levels in the building were found to be 0%, lower explosive limits (LEL) monitors detected high levels of gas in the well casing, Environmental Services Manager Kari Bondaroff notes in the report.
Further testing of the tanks, pump house, and well casing, was done Feb. 22, the day the station was scheduled to open.
LEL levels had dropped by two-thirds, indicating that gasses were dissipating. Within the pump house, no LELs were detected, however, low levels of oxygen were detected at the floor level and the ceiling level. Within the well casing, high levels of LEL were still detected.
WorkSafe BC, Northern Health, and the BC Oil and Gas Commission were notified.
“The station was immediately powered off and production of water was ceased at that time,” writes Bondaroff.
“To date, the information by site operators and verified by the OGC, makes it clear that the water chemistry from the source well has changed since Friday, February 19, 2021 to the point where it is affecting operator safety. Prior to this date, there have never been LEL concentrations detected at either the well pump station or the tankloader site.”
A team from the OGC site visited the site on Feb. 25 and found high levels of LELs in the well casing. At the tankloader, no LELs were detected, however, the station had also not produced water for four days, Bondaroff notes.
A formal waterwell complaint was filled with the OGC's compliance and enforcement department, as well as its hydrogeologist and hydrologist, Bondaroff adds.
The PRRD has spent $919,169 to build the station. Another $407,233 has been spent on related operational expenditures, including contractor rates, property lease payments, electricity, and insurance, according to the report.
Bodnaroff is recommending the Electoral Directors Committee authorize the station’s closure and decommissioning, as well as the removal of all physical infrastructure.
Bodnaroff is also recommending a virtual meeting be held with residents before the end of March, and that the committee recommend the PRRD's regional board authorize a feasibility study to identify alternative treatable surface or groundwater sources to establish a potable water bulk fill service station.
The committee meets Thursday.
Read the report below: