For more than 50 years, Golden Ranches—located east of Edmonton within the Beaver Hills UNESCO Biodiversity Reserve—was a privately owned and operated ranch that included recreation facilities and some highly productive wetlands. In 2008, the owners decided to sell the land. Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and a number of other partners were able to allocate funds toward purchasing the land with a goal to restore and enhance the habitat for the enjoyment of all Albertans. Before ACA could acquire one of the parcels of land, they required an environmental site assessment (ESA) to identify potential liabilities.
ACA hired Matrix Solutions Inc. to conduct a Phase 1 ESA before taking those findings into a Phase 2 ESA. The assessment revealed that the parcel of land that had been used to support agricultural activities contained underground storage tanks (USTs) used for gasoline and diesel fuel. Our team determined that fuel losses over the decades had impacted the subsurface but that the soil was amenable to onsite remediation. An expedient and cost-effective solution was required, because the land transfer was bounded by certain time and financial constraints.
Matrix worked with a local earthmoving company to excavate and bioremediate a total of 6,235 m³ of impacted soil near the former USTs. As soil was treated, it was tested and used to backfill the excavation. Following the remediation program, indoor air in the nearest building and groundwater quality around the excavated area were tested to ensure that risks to people, plants, and animals had been lowered to acceptable levels.
“Our team was really committed to supporting this land transfer because the generosity of the estate owner in offering these lands to the ACA was inspiring,” said Margaret Allan, Principal Engineer.
Ultimately the remediation led to the successful transfer of the land, which became a valued part of the Golden Ranches Conservation Site. ACA plans to develop an education centre at Golden Ranches, where community members can learn about the environment and environmental stewardship, while responsibly enjoying the environment through its many recreational opportunities.
The Matrix team agrees that it has been gratifying to work on a project like this where environmental stewardship matters.
“It has been really rewarding to be able to solve a complex problem in a such a short time frame,” said Blake Hamer, Senior Hydrogeologist. “It’s even more rewarding to see how our work supported ACA’s vision and will provide a direct benefit to the public and environment.”