Water runs red near Plan B site

Ryan Ross
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Work at the Plan B highway realignment.

It wasn’t supposed to happen, but a stream along the Trans-Canada Highway realignment ran red with silt Friday near Peters Road.

Steve Yeo, the province’s chief engineer, said a silt fence was compromised, which allowed water to get into the stream.

“As soon as staff saw it then they got the contractor to fix it right away,” he said.

Since work started on the so-called Plan B, the contractor put several measures in places to keep silt from running into waterways along the new highway’s route.

Those measures include silt fences and setting ponds to capture sediment.

In this case, the fence was breached near the site where protesters had set up a camp in the project’s path before the RCMP removed them several weeks ago.

Yeo said sandbags were anchoring the silt fence, but there was an area where the ground underneath it was soft and the water was able to get underneath it.

“The contractor re-anchored it and put additional sandbags to make it stronger,” he said.

The province has staff in place to monitor the measures used to minimize the project’s environmental impact and Yeo said staff noticed the breach around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Yeo said there was also an issue with water pumped out of the setting ponds and filtered through vegetation to remove the finer particulate, but the ground became saturated from recent rains.

That plan changed and the water was pumped to different setting ponds farther away from the stream, he said.

Despite the measures in place to keep silt out of the water, Yeo said no one could have anticipated the ground weakening and giving out the way it did.

Yeo said the same measures are used in other projects and they usually work well, although there are occasionally problems.

“The environmental controls are far above what we would normally put in a construction job,” he said.

Plan B opponents have been voicing concerns about the project’s environmental impact, including the potential impact of sediment getting into the waterways.

Jackie Waddell, the Island Nature Trust’s executive director, hadn’t been to the site to see the breach’s impact, but said it happened after a moderate rainfall.

“This won’t be the last time,” she said.

As for the impact, Waddell said silt could affect fish, invertebrates and vegetation.

Waddell said it’s going to be another two years of silt getting into waterways along the construction path, despite assurances it wouldn’t happen.

“It’s impossible to prevent that in a project this big with the highly erodible soils we have here on P.E.I.,” she said.




  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • subtle subversiveness not lost on Islanders
    November 10, 2012 - 17:10

    Kudo's to Ryan Ross for his headline: "Water Runs Red near Plan B site". Being what it is, smuggling subtle subversiveness into headlines will have to suffice for investigative journalism. Better than nothing. Thankfully, it's not lost on Islanders!

  • alfredd
    November 10, 2012 - 16:08

    Why am I not surprised? Ghiz never had a clue or care about the environment, his tunnel vision sees only dollars and patronage, - to hell with everything else. -- Loved the liberal propaganda flier with the Guardian this morning, -- too bad it is so glossy and shiny, - so it can't be used in the out-house, which is where it would serve a purpose. ning

  • SG
    November 10, 2012 - 12:40

    Controversy will do nothing to change anything. I believe that was clear at the start of this Project. Islanders voices were not heard then and they won't be heard now. Sad but True. Many Islanders did not feel this Highway was needed and still don't. The Safety Report stating one fatality over ten years and six accidents on the present TCH didn't do much to change opinion. I hope those who wanted this new TCH costing $ Millions enjoy it. I won't be travelling on it.

  • Debby Hennessey
    November 10, 2012 - 11:15

    I betcha it was Liberal Red !!!!! Karma......she works in mysterious ways.She will come back and bite all who did her wrong.

  • Bonshaw Residue
    November 10, 2012 - 11:00

    You said it Bonshaw Resident - it runs red every time as do most other streams on PEI and that's why it has to stop. You've done nothing to stop it so far - guess you don't wanna be kool!! These streams should be clear - you would have many more fish to catch, boats could travel further upstream since not silted in and the fishery along the coast would be thriving rather than declining. Fishers won't stand up and say but the silt flowing out of the rivers is hampering reproduction of lobsters, other shellfish and fish in general. But you can just sit back and do nothing but blandly state that the only reason for the protests is the coolness factor - what a joke.

  • redman
    November 10, 2012 - 10:22

    Last month the Montague river ran red and not a tv camera to be seen,slow news days on PEI.

    • Piet Hein
      November 10, 2012 - 10:57

      They are not building a major highway near the Montague River

    • huh
      November 10, 2012 - 11:32

      "Plan B" is a pretty hot topic these days, especially issues related to its environmental impact. So I doubt a story like this is indicative of a slow news day. You can expect anything related to Plan B to make the news.

  • Divided Highway
    November 10, 2012 - 10:08

    Dear PEI: Why are you building a highway that has been cursed since its conception? The "I told you so's" will never end.

  • Where's Kim Horrelt gone?
    November 10, 2012 - 09:53

    Kim Horrelt . . . where are you now? Nuff' said . . . ? At the start of the Plan B fiasco the voice of the operation was the communication's officer, Andrew Sprague; seemed to be a good guy with some moral fibre. He didn't last long. Then Mary Moszynski was hired; haven't heard a peep from her. Not a great performance indicator for a "communication's" officer, isn't it the job to communicate? At least Andrew Sprague tried - couldn't keep a straight face, but he tried. Nor have Islanders heard from the Executive Assistant, Mark O'Halloran or more importantly, the Deputy Minister Brian Douglas. Okay, the big BIG salaries are quiet as a mouse - wonder why? And what's really interesting is that we haven't heard a peep - not a sound - from Alan Aitken who is the Island's Traffic Operations Engineer. Also not a sound from the Highway Safety Director, John MacDonald.This is getting plain weird, we don't hear a sound from the Island's Traffic Operations Engineer or the Highway Safety Director or the communication's officer or the deputy minister - but Islanders are hearing from an unnamed "Transportation Department spokeswoman". You'd have to have one very strong friend (or Island Coastal) to move the rock they all seem to be hiding under.

    • Yikes.
      November 10, 2012 - 20:54

      Yeo says, “The environmental controls are far above what we would normally put in a construction job." Yikes, it doesn't take a genius to unpack that statement!

  • Kathleen
    November 10, 2012 - 09:29

    The dirt is red. I expect with any type of rainfall, construction, mud or sand turning event that the water would run red! It's the same as any other province except it would run more brown-ish. Yes there is mud movement, of course. Please don't make a mountain out of a mole hill. It will not ruin the river or watershed.

  • The real facts
    November 10, 2012 - 08:35

    This directed to the guardian, that picture which you used for your story is from before the new highway even started, it is a shale pit close to the the plan b highway that was owned by a contractor. It would be nice if you could submit a photo that actually relates to the story you are covering and not just attach a photo that is in your files. Maybe a story like this you should go and look at the actual situation before reporting on it.

  • PEIMom
    November 10, 2012 - 08:17

    It's absolutely laughable that Yeo says 'The environmental controls are far above what we would normally put in a construction job' because anyone who knows anyone in construction would tell you, what they 'would normally do' when no one is looking, is nothing! Wake up people. This gov't and many before it, do not care one bit for the environment. Thankfully the protesters have not gone away and have become 'public monitors' of this project. I for one am very thankful they are there, and I wish we could have such monitors on ALL projects that would otherwise trample the environment in the blinnk of an eye.

  • Ulfric
    November 10, 2012 - 08:16

    This wasn't taken into consideration during the environmental impact assessment I take it?

  • Stan Mitigation Tec
    November 10, 2012 - 08:02

    Here is a good example to show that all the "mitigation" talk done by Stantec was baloney and their report was just a rubber stamp for this destructive & wasteful project.

  • Can we trust them to build a highway
    November 10, 2012 - 07:55

    I supported the Plan B highway for some time. But honestly after this mess, I wonder if they have the expertise to actually build a decent highway even with 24 million plus. The old highway was fine, but i guess they can build a highway better than they can build a little 'fence'. But you do have to wonder just what is going on with this project?

  • Jontysim
    November 10, 2012 - 07:54

    Although the water in the West River runs redder after any heavy rain, the amount of silt in the river was exceptional yesterday, especially considering that this was not a major rain event. I live right next to the section of river in question and I see the condition of the water every day. There is no doubt that construction is affecting the condition of the West River.

    • Bonshaw Resident
      November 10, 2012 - 10:30

      Odd. When I got home last evening the river was only slightly discovered. It is running clear today. There have been many times this summer where it took several days to clear.

  • John G
    November 10, 2012 - 07:51

    Construction sites of all kinds and farm plowed fields across the entire country and every else will see silt runoff getting into streams and rivers. After all is the work done the contractor should excavate a bunch of silt directly out of the streams in the area to compensate.

  • Not Surprised
    November 10, 2012 - 07:42

    It seems to me the engineers of this project should be doing a better job. It's not like they don't know about the type of soil we have here. It erodes easily. You have to take extra measures to prevent that. We will be paying for this unnecessary road in so many ways for generations to come. I hope these guys have a slant prepared for their children and grandchildren when they ask. Nobody is gaining anything from it besides the construction company who can't get their act together.

  • Janet Gaudet
    November 10, 2012 - 07:08

    No concern, people, Steve Yeo has it all under control. That makes me feel so much better............NOT!

  • Bonshaw Resident
    November 10, 2012 - 06:24

    What a crock!! Anyone who lives or fishes in the area knows fully well the West River runs red every time there is any amount of rain. You would think from the remarks from the watershed group, the Nature Trust and the protesters that this river always runs clear and is only red now from the construction. BS!! This is why the opponents to the project have completely lost all credibility with most people . The Plan B opponents are as good at spin as any government. Most of the protesters have zero knowledge of the area and are only in the Bonshaw area because it is suddenly "cool' to protest.

  • Chet
    November 10, 2012 - 05:49

    So Robert Vesey has broken the law? Correct? By not ensuring adequate environmental protection infrastructure as per the directive of the Minister of the Environment? No? Am I missing something here? Or was Min. Sharry's document just a set of guidelines???? I am confusd now.