Toxic ash test slated

Debris sites that housed arsenic contaminated ash in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan will be tested for soil and groundwater contamination in coming weeks.

Tests in January 2005 found no evidence of soil or groundwater contamination but follow-up tests have not been conducted.

The Water Authority planned to begin follow up testing in March 2006 but was constrained by staffing shortages.

Hendrik Van Genderen, a Water Authority water resources engineer, said a new staff member was hired in late April to oversee the testing.

Mr Genderen said that although the sites appear to have been well taken care of, further tests are necessary to determine whether the contaminated ash has had a lasting effect of the sites.

Of particular importance will be tests at the Frank Sound debris site, which is near Grand Cayman’s main fresh water lens.

Approximately 4,000 cubic yards of toxic ash was created when pressure treated wood was burned at debris sites following Hurricane Ivan.

In February 2006, the toxic ash was removed from the debris sites to a special polyurethane lined pit at the George Town Landfill.

Pressure treated wood contains a lumber preservative that has been banned by US authorities since January 2004. When burned, the wood creates a toxic ash containing the carcinogen arsenic and chromium.