Nature Trust warns of contamination in amphibian preserve

The Nature Trust of New Brunswick is warning that an amphibian reserve in Fredericton has high levels of heavy metal contaminants in the sediment, which could be affecting the frogs. 

A 2016 Nature Trust report showed levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc all above the probable effect level value set out by the Canadian Sediment Quality guidelines. 

“We found that there were high levels, especially of lead, arsenic and other elements that are usually found naturally in areas. But unfortunately, the levels that we found in Hyla Park are way above the normal levels that are recommended,” said Nature Trust CEO Renata Woodward. 

Before Hyla Park became a nature preserve, it was a Race Track in the 60s and a dumping ground for years after that.

The Nature Trust began leasing the 8.77 hectare park from the city in 1995 and has been working to clean up the site. Adjacent to the wetland, American Iron and Metal has a metal recycling facility. 

The Nature Trust of New Brunswick says the province has been aware of the heavy metal contaminants in Hyla Park for several years. 1:34

Some lead concentrations were more than 600 times above the national guidelines. Those high concentrations can be damaging to frogs. 

“The wetland connecting to Hyla Park… those concentrations are extremely high where it would be very likely these amphibians are being exposed to extremely high levels of lead or other metals,” said the Nature Trust’s stewardship technician Shaylyn Wallace. 

A metal recycling plant can be seen on the far side of the wetland. (Gary Moore)

“It could cause deformities in any of the tadpoles that are hatched out, they could have slowed growth if they’re exposed to high metal contaminations.”

The Trust took its findings to the City. The City hired Stantec to review the findings in 2017.

“It identified that further assessment was required and it also noted that the source of the pollution was not fully defined, so that’s when the city referred the report to the Department of Environment,” said Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the public safety and environment committee. 

But three years on, the Trust says nothing has happened. 

Hyla Park is an amphibian reserve in Fredericton. High levels of lead, zinc and other metals have been found in the sediment. (Lauren Bird)

“We have made multiple requests,” said Woodward, “but because we are dealing with private landowners outside of the Hyla Park, it is bound by confidentiality so (the government) cannot give us any information. 

“Just getting updates and directions, what we can do, and information — how the provincially significant wetland will be protected better than it is right now, would be welcome.”

CBC asked the Department of Environment for an interview, but no one was made available. 

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