We are excited to release The Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern Status Report 2022 as it shows a great example of collaborative efforts made by conservation authorities, municipalities, First Nation communities, Métis communities, environmental groups, industry and the public to develop and successfully implement the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern (AOC).
The purpose of this Status Report is to summarize the remedial and monitoring activities undertaken over the history of the Peninsula Harbour Remedial Action Plan, and to present an update on the status of beneficial use impairments (BUIs) within the Area of Concern.
The Status Report discusses what study findings are indicating about the current state of the environment, and provides evidence that supports the recent re-designations to Not Impaired status of three of the four remaining beneficial use impairments (BUIs) in the AOC: Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations, Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Degradation of Benthos.
Below, you’ll find some major milestones for the Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern along the way:
To download an image of this timeline, click here.
Peninsula Harbour Sediment Remediation Project
Elevated levels of mercury and PCBs have accumulated in the Jellicoe Cove portion of Peninsula Harbour adjacent to a former pulp mill. The source of harbour mercury was a chlor-alkali plant, which, at one time, operated beside the pulp mill. To create a clean habitat for plants and animals, and to accelerate natural recovery, Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment put in place a project to cap this contaminated sediment with clean sand.
The project was completed during the summer of 2012. The integrity of the cap and “re-colonization” of the area by bottom-dwelling organisms, including plants, will be monitored for the next 20 years. The capping project is the last major action required to address environmental concerns in Peninsula Harbour.
WATCH: Overview of Peninsula Harbour Sediment Capping Project (Environment Canada)
The Use of Thin-Layer Cap to Manage Hg and PCB Contaminated Sediments in Jellicoe Cove, Peninsula Harbour, Ontario, Canada. November 20, 2012. Technical presentation by Kay TIm et al. from the Environmental Canada Sediment Remediation Unit on the thin-layer capping project in Jellicoe Cove, Peninsula Harbour. The presentation covers the sediment studies, risk assessment, management options, cap design, implementation, and long-term monitoring of the project.
Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern Thin-Layer Cap Long-Term Monitoring. 2021. Created by Tara George, Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Great Lakes Unit.
Beneficial Use Impairments
There were 14 environmental issues, also known as Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), which were considered in each Area of Concern. BUIs are changes in chemical, physical and/or or biological properties that have impaired ecosystem benefits, or uses. A status summary for the Peninsula Harbour Area of Concern (1991-2010) follows:
History of the AOC
In 1987, the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement identified 43 Areas of Concern (AOC) in the Great Lakes. Peninsula Harbour was one of the designated AOCs. This agreement commits both countries to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Waters of the Great Lakes.” Area of Concern (AOC) is the term used to identify those hotspots on the Great Lakes where the environment has been harmed to the point that it affects the use and enjoyment of that area of the lake or may affect the health of the lake.
Peninsula Harbour is adjacent to the town of Marathon, Ontario, approximately 290km east of Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior. The AOC includes the town of Marathon and is comprised of two regions: Peninsula Harbour to the north of Marathon and an area of Lake Superior extending 4 km out from Pebble Beach.
In 1991, Marathon community members came together to form a Public Advisory Committee, which assisted federal and provincial agencies in developing the first stage of the RAP for Peninsula Harbour (Stage 1 Report, 1991). This plan was developed to identify environmental problems and determine sources of pollution in the AOC.
The harbour was identified as an AOC as a result of problems associated with:
- Bacterial contamination
- Aesthetic impairment
- Degraded fish and benthic communities
- High levels of toxic contamination, i.e. mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish and bottom sediments