Tuesday, November 16, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 46 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Communicating with as much of the public as you can about council business is very critical.”
- Mayor Bruce Decoux  
- regarding Municipal   
advertising   
 
Several Blairmore residents living on 22nd Avenue along the river are becoming fed up with the onslaught of coal dust blowing into their homes and yards as of late.
Kathy Lang, who resides at 12314 22nd Avenue is one of such residents, and has even made it her personal mission to address the issue, up to and including the government level.
“The coal dust problem wasn’t too bad for a while,” said Lang. “But then Bridgecreek came in and disturbed everything, and now it’s out of control.”
The Crowsnest Pass first became familiar with Bridgecreek Development Corporation in 2004, when the company purchased the 52-acre expanse of land between the Crowsnest River and Highway 3 in Blairmore, pledging to develop it into the site for an upscale hotel and executive townhouses and family homes.
This sparked a frenzy of investment in the project, as well as an upswell in the local real estate market.
Construction soon began on the site, with truckloads of excavated topsoil being trucked off site.
Unfortunately, upon digging up the shin-deep layer of top soil, an even thicker layer of waste coal was unearthed, which reaches as deep as 18 metres in some places.
Bridgecreek then enlisted the aid of nearby environmental testing agencies, who determined the soil had unacceptably high levels of radon gas, which has been linked to lung cancer, and hydrocarbons such as benzene, ethylbenzene and xylene, which are highly volatile and flammable solvents.
Findings also showed that additional groundwork would be necessary to ensure safeguarding for prospective homeowners from the affects of these substances, which would come with a dramatically increased cost for development.
It was around this time that Lang went on a self-described “rampage”, going door-to-door to speak with her neighbours about their concerns with the blowing coal dust, and also contacting anyone she could think of at the local government level.
Becoming furious with receiving no response, Lang says she walked the length of the riverbank taking pictures, before calling someone at the provincial government.
 
“They responded by telling me ‘you don’t know where the coal dust is actually coming from – it could be coming from the river and not the nearby land’,” Lang explained.
“But when the river is frozen over and covered in snow and coal dust, that says to me that the coal dust can’t be coming from the river.”
She then sent the photos she had gathered to federal Minister of Environment Jim Prentice, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and also contacted the provincial government again.
The province came in and did some testing, as well as taking their own pictures, Lang said, but she never received any word back.
“I did everything I thought I could do, and only the bare minimum was done to fix it,” said Lang.
About two years ago, Bridgecreek covered some of the newly exposed waste coal with dirt and gravel in order to appease nearby residents.
“Packing the dust down with dirt doesn’t work because it’s really windy here, and the wind just blows everything away,” said Lang.
“It’s going to have to be dealt with at the municipal level, which means we tax payers are going to have to pay for it.”
Lang says she is forced to wash the floors in her home every two to three days, and that the cloth she uses on her steam mop is immediately caked with a thick layer of black sludge which will not fully wash out.
She also mentioned two of her neighbours, an elderly couple who breath with the assistance of oxygen tanks, must clean their face masks three or four times a day due to the dust blowing into their home.
“It’s not just on our street, either. The coal dust blows all over town, onto the main street, and into homes several blocks away,” said Lang.
She noted there are several families with young children in the area, and that the adverse health implications from the coal dust are serious.
“This is really dangerous from a health point of view,” she said. “It should be taken much more seriously.”
“Bridgecreek came in with million dollar promises, and they haven’t delivered, and now we’re dealing with the consequences.”
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