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PAB slipway asphalt causes enviro concerns

Peter Bouma, an avid kayaker, is worried about the aquatic habitat and the spoiled scenery after asphalt was placed at several slipways, including this one at Lakeshore Drive in Port aux Basques. – © Rosalyn Roy / Wreckhouse Press Incorporated

By RYAN KING

PORT AUX BASQUES – Peter Bouma believes that the town’s picturesque scenery has been spoiled after waste asphalt was laid down at the slipway on Lakeshore Drive this past summer. Esthetics aside, he is also worried about the potential negative environmental impact.

“This dock, they filled it up with asphalt, which is like – you can’t use this asphalt, it’s carcinogens and poisons, right? And they put it here on this dock, and it was around this edge here it was full, right up packed tight, and last year there were hurricanes, right? So it’d come up and wash away all this stuff, wash it into the ocean. You can see it down there at the end of the dock. Now I phoned the city, the town. I went in person three times to the town and I got no answers, but they came and took photos,” said Bouma.

Bouma is an avid kayaker and uses the dock when paddling out to enjoy nature.

“This is one of the most beautiful spots in Newfoundland as far as I’m concerned. It’s gorgeous, gorgeous. I can come up here and kayak, and it’s beautiful, and this is what they’ve done, and this is what they care about. It just is a shame, if Adam of Adam and Eve was here and saw this, he’d kick his ass, I’m sure of it, whoever it is that’s done that,” said Bouma.

Despite contacting the town office multiple times, Bouma said that he has not yet received an answer.

“They came and took photos here, I know, so it’s documented by the town. So what I did was I phoned fish and wildlife, because this is over a year now. I phoned them, and I’m disgusted,” said Bouma. “I told them ‘Look, I’m going to call the police if you don’t start working on it.’ Like do you want to be under investigation by the police? No response. I asked the mayor to call me. I gave them my phone number. No response.”

Stella Ruddock, Communication Officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), explained that asphalt can negatively affect the ecosystem of aquatic habitats.

“If asphalt used along the shoreline and below the high water mark washes into the water, it could potentially result in infilling and smothering of habitat. According to the guidelines set out for projects near water, DFO review is required for projects taking place near water that could potentially lead to the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat which is a contravention of the Fisheries Act unless otherwise Authorized.”

Ruddock noted that there are regulations in place for the use of these kinds of materials near water.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada applies the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act, along with the relevant provisions of the Species at Risk Act and the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, to regulate works, undertakings or activities that could result in impacts to fish and fish habitat. DFO’s Fish and Fish Habitat Protection Program (FFHPP) works with proponents of projects near or in water to avoid, and where necessary, authorize the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat, which is otherwise prohibited under the Fisheries Act.”

Ruddock added that those who are concerned about work or activities being done near water that could result in harm to fish and fish habitat can contact DFO by phone at (709) 772-4140 or by email at FPP-NL@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Town Leon MacIsaac explained that asphalt is fine to use near the water, provided it is above the high water mark.

“The slipway noted is on Lakeshore Drive and used by local fishermen to load and offload their respective boats. Mr. Bouma had approached the Town with concerns over asphalt being deposited in the ocean near the slipway. An asphalt contractor was producing millings from the removal of area asphalt and the millings were deposited on the gravel access to the wooden slipway at the request of local residents. The material was placed due to excess potholes on the gravel access area. There is no indication that the asphalt millings were deposited in any area other than the gravel access. This area is beyond the high water mark and is not of concern for contamination to the environment. Any areas which receive asphalt millings would have the material placed above the high water mark to prevent the material from entering the marine environment.”

MacIsaac stated that the area had been examined previously by government agencies to ensure that the material was safe to place there.

“The area in question has been reviewed by the Provincial Department of Environment and by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Neither entity has expressed any concerns to date that the material was placed in a manner that was a concern for environmental contamination,” stated MacIsaac.

There was no response as to why Bouma’s inquiries were not addressed before now. Meanwhile, Hossain Tahazzud, an environmental protection officer, has said that the department will continue to investigate the matter in order to ensure that the proper procedures were followed and that there is no threat to the aquatic habitat.

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