New Brunswick has over 1,000 contaminated sites to clean up, Auditor General says

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s auditor general says the province has a backlog of more than 1,000 contaminated sites dating back 35 years.

In a report published today, Paul Martin indicates that 75% of sites have not been treated for 10 years or more.

Martin’s report also indicates that the province has no program to deal with orphan sites and that the government has not designated an entity to coordinate the remediation of sites it owns.

The report indicates that the lack of oversight has potential negative impacts on future liability and remediation costs.

As of March 31, Martin says the province has a liability of $50.8 million for contaminated sites.

The audit also revealed that the current process used by the environmental department does not require a specific timeline for remediation, and the remediation program is not mentioned in legislation or regulation.

« Without a clear definition of legislative authority, the ministry may not be able to apply the contaminated sites management process in a timely manner, » the report said. « This, in turn, can lead to delays in remediation leading to adverse effects on the environment and human health. »

Martin said New Brunswick is the only province in Atlantic Canada without legislation or regulations applying to its environmental contamination cleanup program.

The audit also found the province’s Environmental Trust Fund, which funds projects focused on protecting, preserving and enhancing the natural environment, had a surplus of nearly $41 million. to March 31.

« We were surprised to see projects being turned down for funding while a surplus continues to accumulate, » the report said.

Martin said the Department of the Environment has no standardized approach to assessing applications for project funding and no clear plan for the surplus, which has doubled over the past decade. Nor has there been any evaluation of the fund’s performance or results since its inception in 1990.

« The department needs to clarify its position and develop a transparent plan outlining how and under what circumstances it will use the accumulated surplus, » Martin said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 29, 2022.


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