“The province has told Hamilton’s airport to do more to stop buried toxic chemicals from escaping city-owned land — seven years after the original cleanup plan stalled.

Scientists found high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a banned chemical once used in firefighting foam, in wildlife in Lake Niapenco several years ago — spurring homeowner well tests and provincial warnings against eating certain large fish up and down the Welland River.

Studies traced the pollution to 1980s-era firefighter training by the federal government at Hamilton airport. In 2011, airport operator TradePort plugged ditches fingered as chemical escape routes, but plans for a permanent cleanup stalled amid intergovernmental wrangling over responsibility.

The federal government did agree to do a study of downstream pollution — and results so far suggest it is ‘possible’ chemicals are still escaping the property, said Paul Widmeyer, district manager for the provincial Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

He said the pollution ‘continues to be detected’ in an airport pond, as well as in surface water in tributaries linked to the property.

As a result, the ministry has asked the airport to do new chemical monitoring — and potentially dig up some polluted sediment in the pond and surrounding ditches. ‘If you remove the sediment, you remove the source,’ Widmeyer said, adding he understands some of the requested work has already been done.

The airport submitted a work plan on April 30 that still needs ministry approval. The document was not immediately available when requested from the airport and ministry.

The airport has asked the city for almost $100,000 to help cover the costs of the new PFOS-fighting plan. But a report heading to council later this month shows most of the cash will be used to lobby other levels of government to take responsibility for the pollution problem.

The requested cash includes $12,000 for annual monitoring, $8,000 to store chemical-tainted soil, $6,000 for a consultant and $70,000 for ‘current and continued government relations and public relations.’ ”

Read the full article by Mathew Van Dongen