Kingston Inner Harbour Sediment Management Project

History of Contamination

Historical industry within the Kingston Inner Harbour (KIH) included coal gasification, tannery operations, lead smelting, a landfill, various mills, a shipyards fuel depot and railway.

The historically-dominant sources of contamination have since been replaced by newer and cleaner site uses, but their legacy remains in the sediment chemistry. Sediments are a sink for past inputs, and those inputs do not clean up rapidly under natural conditions. The activity from these sites deposited metals directly into the harbour or washed metals into the harbour with surface water or ground water. The elevated metals include chromium, mercury, arsenic, lead, and copper.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are other prevalent contaminants in the harbour from historical activities that mainly originated from the Belle Landfill, the coal gasification plant, and the former rail yard.

Studies have concluded that people, fish and wildlife may experience negative health effects (risks) if exposed to this contaminated sediment. Despite several decades of time for natural recovery, several areas have not recovered enough to be safe for uses by people (such as wading), and fish and wildlife for feeding.

History of KIH sediment contamination and how sediments move in the KIH

What ongoing sources are there and how are they controlled?

Have more questions? Please visit the Q&A page for the project for the full list of questions and answers.