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The New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton. Image: Brad Perry

Auditor Concerned About How N.B. Manages Contaminated Sites

By Brad Perry Nov 30, 2022 | 12:54 PM

New Brunswick’s auditor general is raising concerns about how the province manages its contaminated sites process.

In his latest report, Paul Martin said the Department of Environment has a backlog of more than 1,000 sites.

“With over 75 per cent being open over 10 years or longer, some being open for as many as 35 years,” Martin said when presenting his report to a legislative committee on Tuesday.

The department told the auditor general’s office that some of the backlog is due to a resource issue that existed in the past.

Martin believes several problems contributed to that, including a lack of remediation timelines, no performance monitoring, and orphan sites — areas where the responsible party cannot be determined or where the responsible party cannot afford remediation.

The department has a plan to deal with the backlog, he said, but it does not address how to process all open contaminated site files.

“While some sites have already been remediated, it is unknown to the department whether the contamination remains at some of the oldest sites, often due to a lack of documentation,” said Martin.

The report also said the province has no program to address orphan sites, and that the government has not designated a single entity to coordinate the remediation of government-owned contaminated sites.

In addition, Martin said the current process does not require a specific timeline for remediation or proactive follow-up.

“With no established timelines or follow-up, it is not possible for the department to hold stakeholders accountable for timely site remediation,” he said.

Martin said the remediation program is also not referenced in any legislation or regulation, which has contributed to the department’s inability to ensure timely remediation of contaminated sites.

The auditor general made a total of 17 recommendations to the Executive Council Office and the Department of Environment and Local Government.

You can read the full report by clicking here.


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